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17 Jun 2009

Birds in the house

Apparently, having a bird come into the house is a sign of good luck. We have had this happen three times, and all we have received is bird poop. Still, perhaps that avoided something worse, like a wild boar in the kitchen, or a hang glider on the roof.

The first bird came in, very unexpectedly, three or four years ago. My wife, Averil, was alone here while I was away in London. It was a hot summer evening, and she opened the bedroom window wide, and also the tilting Velux window in the roof above the bed. She had just got into bed when the Velux window suddenly swung over , and a large tawny owl landed on the bed beside her. She looked at the owl, somewhat surprised. The owl look at her, equally surprised. Then they both shrieked and waved their arms – or wings. The owl flew out through the other window, only just fitting through the opening. Just as well, they have pretty monstrous talons and beaks. The lesson, I suppose, is that the tilting mechanism on Velux windows is not stiff enough to bear the weight of a large owl, though I am hard pressed to think of many circumstances in which that knowledge would be useful.

The second bird was much smaller. One of the prettier little migrant birds that arrive each spring is the redstart. Two years ago, one had obviously just arrived from Africa, and was exhausted. It had perched on the lamp outside our back door, which I discovered when I turned on the light. The bird panicked, and flew into the house. It flew around, went upstairs, and because it was dark outside never found a way out. Trying to catch it was at first impossible, because it took off as soon as I got close. However, it was clearly extremely tired, and flew less and less, before eventually giving up and just sitting on a beam. I was able to pick it up, take it outside, and leave it in a bush. A pair of redstarts nested in an apple tree that year, though I have no idea if it was the same bird. The lesson here is that tired small birds at the end of their migratory flight have not eaten much for a while, and do not drop a lot of poop when they are frightened.

Yesterday, it was a blackbird. I was reading a newspaper at the kitchen table. When I turned the page, I was surrounded by flapping black feathers and squawking. I didn't hear the bird fly in, though it may have just hopped. It obviously didn't see me until I moved and in effect flapped a huge white wing in the air. The creature flew at a window, banged its head on the glass, bounced off, whizzed around as I tried to open the window, and then flew at me to get out. It hit the glass gain, and then started to fly upstairs before seeing an open door to the outside and flying through it. What I learned from this is that frightened blackbirds contain a prodigious amount of poop, and have the power to squirt it everywhere. I also learnt that it irrevocably stains white painted walls, which have to be repainted.

I am still not ready to talk about the mice invasion of a few years ago.

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