The Bail Bondsman’s Guide to Birds of the American Northeast


American Goldfinch

You can’t trust a finch. It’s a songbird. A master of the bait-and-switch. Everything they say is a lie. Always there’s the hidden agenda, the shit they think you don’t know about. If there’s one part of this job that tires me out, it’s the people who come in here thinking they’re smarter than I am. Like I ain’t seen it all. The stop payments. The car in the sister’s name. The guy they know who knows a guy in the prosecutor’s office. Stolen credit cards. A lot of people, they’re better off in a cell. Keeps ’em out of trouble. I run a mostly cash business. It’s easier that way.

Snowy Egret, Birds of the Northeast, migratory, flight riskSnowy Egret

Always a flight risk. Anything migratory like this, anything that calls two places home, it just raises questions. Also, a bird like this, there’s temperament to factor in. A high-strung bird is an unpredictable bird. Unpredictable is anathema in my business. Yeah, anathema. Sometimes I get straight arrows in here, guys just walked into their first heap of shit in their lives. Maybe somebody got hurt in a DWI. Or a shady investment went bad. These people, they got cash, they got collateral up the ass, but they got mobility. Worse, they have no knowledge of the system. They’re subject to irrational fear. Like I said, they’re a flight risk. They’re a boom-or-bust proposition. Most of ’em, if they do flee, they ain’t too hard to find. Life ain’t like the movies. It’s hard for an amateur to hide.

Osprey, predator, bounty hunter, birds of the northeastOsprey

Now we’re talking. The osprey. The fish hawk. The eye in the fucking sky. In nature, you got your prey and you got your predator. An osprey won’t eat squirrels or rats or voles. It just eats fish. It’s specialized. It’s half a mile up and it sees the fish in the sea. Nothing is invisible to it. It’s nature’s bounty hunter. I got two people I work with. Two of the best. They’re like night and day. Dmitry is Russian, he’s got the big arms, the tattoos, the voice like a megaphone. He’s so big, he doesn’t have to worry about fights. Nobody wants to get into it with him. He’s armed like a fucking Transformer. One on the hip, one in the boot, that I know about. Smash and grab. Georgy is a Romanian. He looks like an accountant, like any guy off the street. No muss, no fuss. No scene. He’s on you before you know it; he’s in your head. He’s like a cobra. One second you’re on a log, thinking your mousy thoughts, the next second you’re in the cobra’s belly, wondering what the hell happened. Good guys, Dmitry and Georgy. I tell people, don’t bother doing anything dumb. You don’t want any Dmitry and Georgy trouble. Almost always, they listen.

Northern cardinal, Birds of the Northeast, child supportNorthern Cardinal

The female cardinal is an enabler of the worst sort. Whenever you see a bright red cardinal in a bush, helping itself to all the best berries, that’s the male cardinal. When you see a male cardinal, look several feet to the left or right and you’ll see a drab, dingy gray bird on a branch. That’s the female. The female isn’t eating. It’s just waiting, because the male will feed it beak-to-beak, when it’s damn good and ready. Cardinals mate for life. The female builds the nest and incubates the eggs. The male cardinal is the shit and it knows it. It’s amazing how nature works. I get guys in here, they don’t have a pot to piss in. They got an arrest record, pages of tiny print like a Racing Form. Never had a job, never will have one. Wake and bake, deal some weed, shake down bitches for money. And they got, like, harems, of these beaten-down chicks, following them around. Nothing to look at, for the most part, but still. Baby mommas and girlfriends. All bickering over one shiftless shitheel like he’s something worth having, with his fucking nasty grill and three outstanding warrants for unpaid child support. Nature works in mysterious ways. It don’t make sense.

Laughing Gull, Birds of the Northeast, credit, collateralLaughing Gull

Because regular gulls aren’t annoying enough. Seriously, they’re a real thing. Laughing Gull. You got your White-Headed Gull, your Black-Backed Gull, and your Laughing Gull. Gulls are rats with wings. They exist at a level where you can’t do anything to help them. When I’m on the beach and I see a kid throw a corn chip in the air, I want to go over there and punch his dad in the face. One corn chip earns you thirty minutes of gull screaming and half a quart of gull shit all over everything. Gulls have no shame. They steal from each other. They steal from family. There’s a whole class of people, can’t even get in my office door. They have nothing. No cash, no credit, no collateral, no hope. Nothing. You can get to the end of things, and there’s nowhere to go but down.

Pine Warbler, Birds of the Northeast, bench warrantPine Warbler

Just what it sounds like. A nuisance. Sitting on a branch, always got something to say. Some birds are just like people. They always have a reason. Oh, I had a hearing? I din’t know. That cellphone, I din’t have no more time on it. I ain’t at that address no more. My bitch, she kick me out. We re-schedule, right? I got this new phone, it’s cool, I be on time. Every fucking day, a different reason. They are impervious to sense.  All they got is tweet, tweet, tweet. Look, Paco, you got issued a fucking bench warrant. You know what that means? Oh, my kid, she been sick, we can’t get no medicine. Around and around, it never ends.

Red-Tailed Hawk, Birds, American NortheastRed-Tailed Hawk

Regal as fuck. Top of the food chain. Any species–birds, people, fucking chipmunks–you have your rabble and you have your gold standard. I had a guy, his name was literally that. Hawk. Import/export, had a storefront on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, in the 20s, when you could still do business there. Had his troubles with the authorities, the way you will in that field of endeavor. Little beefs. Counterfeit designer goods. Money laundering. Warehousing stolen goods. Cops were always chipping away at him. I never had a moment’s trouble with him. He paid his bills; he paid ’em on time. He was where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there. There’s a simple dignity in that. Never spent a night in a cell until they got him for tax evasion. Seven to ten, he died of a stroke six months in. Some birds can’t live in a cage.

Anyway, enough about birds, I got my nut to make, same as anybody.

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