The dark-suited salaryman

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The dark-suited salaryman

Approximately 450 species of birds have been spotted in Korea. Some are quite rare. Others, it seems, are everywhere we look, even close to home. It's identifying the habits of these common types that takes a certain skill.

In a periodic series that begins today, we present species that deserve closer looks. All the fowl we will be featuring on this page can be found in the venerable "Field Guide to Birds of Northeast Asia," a text that is available at most local Fly the Way stores.


The dark-suited salaryman can often be seen in small steaming confines. It's not surprising to see 50 or so of these dark-suited birds hovering as they put a talon in icy-cold water and then scalding hot water. They do this at very odd hours. Late, late at night or early in the morning.

It has been recently learned that the dark-suited salaryman enjoys eating only items that may enhance his sexual performance. The dark-suited salaryman has a large appetite and will eat almost anything, including four-footed, furry creatures that often chew on bones.

The dark-suited salaryman spends most of his time thinking how he can be promoted in his job, although what that job is has not been completely decided by bird students.

This bird likes an expensive nest and that is one reason he wants to do well.

His offspring need things, too, mostly, it appears, in the form of education of various sorts that usually takes place in surrounding nests.

As the dark-suited salaryman ages, and eats and drinks more and more, the feathers on his midsection begin to bulge and poke forward.

Once a year, at about this time, the dark-suited salaryman decides to eat less and begins to fly in all sorts of crazy patterns, again and again, in hopes of getting those feathers to smooth back. This habit generally lasts for two or three weeks until the following year, when it begins again.


With age, the dark-suited salaryman loses his feathers. Much of the depletion, ornithologists believe, is due to stresses that come from finding food and building nests for his offspring.

Before the dark-suited salaryman completely sheds his feathers, he acquires shorter feathers, as if showing other species his happiest moments, which came when he flew in formation for what experts liken to the army, in the 1970s.

The dark-suited salaryman's vision diminishes as time passes. Often, this bird's sight begins to retreat when he is young. Still, this species retains sharp enough perception to cause him to rarely pass by a female of his species -- or any species -- without a good glance.

These inspections are usually done when the female partner of the dark-suited salaryman is not nearby or is somehow preoccupied. In fact, the dark-suited salaryman has been known to follow up his glances with visits to smaller nests far from home, nests that are built for comfort and traditionally used only for very short periods of time.

The dark-suited salaryman's hearing never seems to decrease through his lifetime. This bird is especially attentive to noises that are related to him: to the sticks on his back, to the liquid he drinks and the female species he studies. Other than that, the dark-suited salaryman seems to tune out everything else, with one exception: He likes to gather with his species in a big nest and hang around watching while one bird after another takes center stage, as it were, and begins to screech and screech.

Most dark-suited salarymen have developed, through the evolutionary process, what resembles a case that hangs from the area near their necks.

This case is smaller than the stick bag on the bird's backside. Inside this case, are generally many things that the dark-suited salaryman calls upon during his daily life.

He keeps in the case, it appears, more of that bitter liquid to drink. And additional white leaves to hold in his beak. Plus what would seem to be an appointment book that lists every nest he is going visit and with whom.

Some dark-suited salarymen keep a small black item that some bird fanciers may think looks like a computer. It's not a computer, of course, for the dark-haired salaryman would never be able to operate such a device. He would get someone else to do that for him.

The fore talons of a dark-suited salaryman usually hold a large white object, which has some resemblance to a newspaper, but is not.

When the dark-suited salaryman flies here and there, he carries this big paper, rolled up and sometimes he tosses it for what appears to be others, who scramble for it.

At one point in his life, the dark-suited salaryman liked to rub his fore talons together, to show his dedication to the superiors in his species. But that gesture is seldom noticed these days. Mostly, the dark-suited salaryman uses his talons as a means of massage.

The dark-suited salaryman likes to rub himself all over, moving from one part of his feathered frame to another. Often, when with others of his species, in well-inhabited places, he will rub his lower talons, not caring whether any other bird notices.

The dark-suited salaryman can be seen at any number of watering spots, usually beginning in the early evening hours and often lasting well into the morning hours. He drinks at these spots a clear liquid that has the faint smell of grain alcohol, but so far no scientific sample has been obtained. It's drunk too swiftly to allow for testing.

The dark-suited salaryman began drinking this liquid when he was a young bird and still flying high. After he drank this, he began to fly even higher. The female of this species does not like this liquid, it's been known, and won't drink it. She likes it less when the male returns near dawn to the nest, smelling greatly of this grain alcohol. This evidently is a common occurrence.

Along the spinal feathers of a dark-suited salaryman rests a large cluster of sticks that are kept inside what, for lack of a better term, might be considered a leather bag. For ages, birdwatchers were not quite sure of the purpose of those sticks. Some researchers once felt the dark-suited salaryman used the sticks to build his nest, but that was ruled out because this species has never been seen to touch the sticks around his nest. Eventually, it was discovered that he always used the sticks in great meadows, for hours and hours, always in the company of other dark-suited salarymen.

The sticks apparently come off that leather bag on the creature's spine and then are bandied about in the air, almost always accompanied by loud and raucous squawking.

All dark-suited salarymen can be spotted easily by the intense glow that comes from their lower talons.

Researchers are not quite sure how and where this shine comes from, but it somehow is noticeable daily, and a dark-suited salaryman apparently requires it to go about his business.

Some ornithologists theorize that the dark-suited salaryman gets the talons to gleam from smaller birds that hover in tiny nests, but that theory has been met with opposition. If the dark-suited salaryman acquires this glow to his talons, what does the dark-suited salaryman give in compensation?

by Lee Ho-jeong

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