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Jan-04-2010 20:20printcomments

The Teros: Scarecrow of Argentina

If I were not a pacifist I would suggest to my crack shot husband a new BB gun for Christmas.

A Scarecrow in Argentina
A Scarecrow in Argentina
Photo by Gail Parker

(PATAGONIA, Argentina) - The teros, the southern lapwing, are beautiful, plentiful and noisy. They screech like you are killing their mother; like they are calling your mother up short for ever conceiving you.

Well now, I have the same to say to them. After gardening my whole life in small places and never planting corn, I finally did this year. But not with just any corn, with that special short corn that is fast-growing enough to beat the climate here in our little pocket of the Andes.

The seed came to me from a local man whose daughter went to the agricultural institute and were a thoughtful gift to the greenhorn Norteamericana.

Weeeeell, I have been waiting and waiting and waiting and when I got done with that I waited some more. Just now, on this foggy Monday morning I caught the culprits red legged, so to speak.

I went for my usual morning perusal of la huerta (vegetable garden, different than el jardin, the garden) and there they were, boldly poking their long beaks into my business.

You see, at this hour, my husband Eddie is off with Chiquita and Pinky running his daily ten kilometers on the runway at the airport. My guard dogs were gone. Not only that, but yesterday Kitten Zawaski, the Princess, Dedi, Dinah Shore, all the same cat but different names depending on our mood, was injured fleeing neighbor dogs and is at the vet recovering from a long cut on her abdomen incurred when she was caught on fencing.

She looked like Vlad the impaler had gotten to her but I didn't have to see it as the new neighbors took her in and I found out later when she was getting all sewed up by Alejandro the vet.

Back to the teros, so they only had that lazy good for nothening Louie to account for, and of course he is mooning around looking for his missing Nephertiti sister-wife and is proving once again which sex takes care of business. Not the Tom, I assure you.

So, the simple fact is that there will be no corn, few beans, and maybe no squash either. Those pretty, long beaks have just the extension needed to poke through the protective cover of chicken wire laid flat to keep kitties, and birds (I thought), out of the garden.

The little symmetrical, equally-distanced holes look like miniature drilling equipment has been searching for oil in my garden. Now I am beginning to understand scarecrows... and if I were not a pacifist I would suggest to my crack shot husband a new BB gun for Christmas.


Gail Parker is a writer and photographer who lives in Argentina. She and her lifetime mate and husband Eddie Zawaski, who also writes for, are former residents of Oregon. Gail has a great eye for memorable photos in this lush place called Patagonia. Her observations from this amazing wonderland of nature are a fun and welcome addition to our story flow. Watch for Gail's wonderful coverage of the birds of Patagonia in future stories and photojournals here on

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.


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