Flipping The Bird

I was cleaning my kitchen one morning and since it was nice out and probably one of the few warm mornings we have left this year, I opened the window for the fresh air. It was very quiet outside; I didn’t hear any birds singing. I think most of them have already packed and started south for the winter. I sat down with a cup of coffee and popped in one of my favorite quiet time CDs called Birdworks. It’s a CD of birdcalls recorded on Shelter Island by a local naturalist named Tom Damiani. It plays and then identifies birdcalls. But the real treasure for me is that the first 20 minutes is just a recording of local bird and forest sounds. It’s very peaceful and serene, like an auditory Valium. [expand]

Suddenly a wren appeared on my windowsill. I’m assuming it was a wren because it looked like a small robin, but it was too big to be a finch. So, it was either a wren or a runt robin. It flew in the kitchen and called out. I realized it was responding to the birdcalls on the CD.

Now I was in a real dilemma. I wanted the bird to fly out, but I didn’t want to scare it. So, I remained still as I thought out my options. I could move my hand and click off the CD player, but the loud click would surely scare the bird and although he might fly out the window, he might fly deeper into the house. If that happened, I’d have to scare him half to death trying to flush him out the window by flapping a pillowcase. While I was debating to move or not to move, he flew over my head and into the laundry room. He was now perched on a box of Tide and I was between him and the window.

I decided he probably couldn’t see my hand from his perch and so I moved my hand slowly and at least managed to turn down the CD volume. I had a good theory; if he no longer heard birdcalls in the house, he would conclude that he was alone and fly out the window to join his friends. It was a good plan.

It was a good plan until I nearly had the volume all the way down and he began chirping. Sounded like normal bird chirping to me. Didn’t sound like he was calling anyone to inform them that he’d found a really warm place to stay for the winter, until another wren came through the window and landed on the sink faucet. At this point I froze in place trying to get my left brain and right brain to rub together inside my skull until there was a spark to get my neurons firing and a brilliant solution would present itself. It really would have helped if Bird One had not flown into my air space until I had finished my first cup of coffee.

Bird One on the Tide box and Bird Two on the faucet by the open window, began a conversation. My bird speak is rusty, but Bird Two was doing fairly well. He convinced Bird One to fly onto the top of the curtain next to the table where I sat and in direct line with the open window. But then Bird One flew back to the laundry room and Bird Two followed to see what was the big deal about folded and unfolded towels. At that moment I got the mental image of bird droppings on my towels and decided, the heck with this, I’m gonna grab a broom and shush them out even if it means they have little bird heart attacks.

But just at that moment Bird Two flew back to the faucet and Bird One followed a few seconds later. The final debate ensued on my faucet and Bird Two pecked Bird One, making it very clear who wore the feather pants in that family and they hopped to the windowsill. There was a bit more conversation, it sounded like an argument over directions, something that we can all recognize regardless of species, and off they went. I closed the window and taped a warning over my Birdworks CD, “Do Not Play Near Open Windows,” because one never knows who’s going to land on one’s faucet.

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