Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bug Eyed Baby Bird Chorus

I know very little about birds: They lay eggs, they hatch. Birds fly around in the sky in various shapes, sizes, and flight patterns. Some birds hunt. Some pick worms out on the lawn. Some eat garbage. Each bird has its own distinct call.

There are a few things I have heard about birds, but don’t know if they are true: Once a baby bird is touched by a human it will be disowned. Birds go to sleep when it is dark. Crows can recognize and remember human faces. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

It was very early in the morning a couple weeks ago I heard the unmistakable scratch and peck of a bird’s talons and beak hard at work somewhere under the eaves and above my bedroom window. I have heard birds up there before, but this was continuous, and happening again the next morning, and the next. I didn’t think to cause a scene. I am not bothered by birds, nor do I have any particular affinity to them. I don’t have a bird feeder, although in the summertime there are enough fishy crackers thrown around the yard to attract more than a couple of crows. This bird above my window was much smaller, a benign species with nothing threatening about it. I caught a flutter of wing and tail as this bird disappeared into a hole somewhere above my car port and my bedroom, he seemed small enough.

And then the chorus began. Early. Dawn cracking early. I awoke to the peeps and squawks of a nest of freshly hatched chicks. All I could imagine as I rolled around in my bed at 5am was the vision of the nest right above my head with a hand full of tiny baby birds, all fuzzy and disgusting, their eyes bugging out, their red beaks stuck open, and wide enough so that you can actually see inside to their guts, as if they were opened like a little coin purse. And they cry. All morning and afternoon crying in spurts, just like a human baby. I hear them up there when I am putting away laundry, and have this same vision, the birdie gullet waiting for the regurgitated worm.

I am annoyed, but in more of a way like I have a loud tenant living in the apartment above me. I haven’t resorted to banging on the ceiling with a broom handle just yet, as if this might really give those birds something to think about. I just hear them and thank the heavens that they will at least be quiet all the way through the night, which is more than my babies could do at that age. I have considered naming them, but in order for that to happen I have to actually go into the attic and witness this blessed brood in their nest, count heads, and then decide if I want boys or girls. But I won’t, because, as my kids have reassured me, only Dads go into the attic. I’m off the hook.

Thing One seems rather excited that we have baby birds. When she and I sit on my bed at night to read a story we can hear them. Every day the sound gets much closer to a scream than the high frequency peep one would imagine a baby bird to make. I think that the picture Thing One has in her head about these tiny birds is much different from mine. Most likely they are some incredible shade of purple, they are perfectly proportioned and symmetrical, and in every way exactly like those birds that fly in and wake up Cinderella in the Disney movie, complete with bed making and improvised showering skills.

It has been almost a week now. My husband is confident that, at some point, the birds will learn to fly out. The next day he also mentioned he that he should go up there and “do something about those birds.” So, I’m not really sure if this is a temporary residence for the flock, or if we are going to have to share the mailbox with the new upstairs neighbors. I am hoping for the former. This little house is pretty crowded as it is.

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