Birds were little more than nondescript flitting things to me that afternoon in January 1973, when I lay down on my bunk to sleep. It was on the second floor of a rundown WWII barracks at a Marine Corps airbase in southern California. I needed sleep because I worked nights in the base’s cavernous warehouse, Building 313, where my job was to find whatever parts the flightline mechanics needed to keep jet fighters and other military “birds” ready to bomb and strafe. But that afternoon not jet roars but soft, high-pitched, beckoning whistles came through the open door at the end of the barracks and woke me up. I walked out onto the stairway landing.