At our house we’ve been dealing with an interesting problem for the past couple of days. Well, interesting is one word for it. Annoying would be another. Maddening would perhaps be best. A certain bird has been pecking away at two of our bedroom windows. This morning it woke me and Tonya up at first light. Our son Royce has the bedroom right next to ours, and the first thing he said when he got up was, “Something was trying to get in my window!”
It was yesterday, around lunch, when I first noticed the bird. It kept heaving itself into my bedroom window. When it wasn’t doing that, it was incessantly pecking away at the window. I grew worried the poor little thing would hurt itself. As the day wore on, I grew worried it was going to crack the window. But along about dawn this morning, I just wanted the thing to ram into the window one last time and die.
So after Tonya and the boys headed off to school, I turned my full attention to what had now officially become “a bird problem.” (Think Bill Murray going up against that gopher in the movie Caddyshack.) My first attempt involved me walking outside and seeing if there was any way that I could catch the thing. You know, maybe I could throw an old sheet over it, get it on the ground, keep it loosely trapped in that sheet, drive it a few hundred miles away, and then release it so that it could torment some other family in that area. But the bird was having none of it. I barely got within ten yards of it before it flew off to safety. Of course, as soon as I got back in the house it returned to the window and started up again. So much for plan #1.
Next I tried running hard at the window from the inside while the bird was pecking away at it. That did create the scare I was hoping for, but the bird just moved down to Royce’s window and started pecking away at that window. So then I ran at that window. That got the bird to fly off to a tree in my neighbor’s yard. But it didn’t stay there long. Just a few minutes later it was right back at my window, back on the job. That ended plan #2.
At this point I decided to seek some professional help. I went to the internet and did a google search on “how to keep a bird from pecking at a window.” First, I had to work through the old superstitious nonsense about such a bird meaning that someone in the house is going to die soon. The idea is that the bird is actually the soul of a deceased loved one who has come back to escort another soul into the afterlife. Yeah, right. And I’m the Easter bunny. The only way that bird was going to be associated with a death in our home was if I fell off a ladder and broke my neck while trying to deal with it. Clearly more research was in order.
In the end, I was somewhat surprised to learn that this is a common problem, especially during this time of year. What the bird is actually doing is protecting its nesting territory from a rival bird. When it sees its reflection in the window, it thinks it’s seeing another bird from its species. And it deals with that by aggressively attacking that other bird. I guess it’s a price we pay for keeping our windows relatively clean.
Okay, so how do you stop a bird from attacking its reflection? The popular answer was to get some pictures of a cat and tape those pictures on the outside of the windows the bird visits. So I printed out some pictures of cats and taped those pictures to the windows. As I was doing that, I kept thinking what a wonderful environmentalist I was. I mean, you have to be a true animal lover to go to such extremes not to harm a bird, even if it does require scaring the thing to death by way of a cat picture. But, alas, my little friend paid absolutely no attention to those cat pictures. It just parked itself on the ledge right beside one and started hammering away again at my window. So much for plan #3. Evidently I should have gone to a taxidermist and rented a stuffed mountain lion.
At this point I transitioned from being Bill Murray in Caddyshack to being Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation. I went down into the basement, gathered up a bunch of box lids, found our step-ladder, and headed outside to basically “board up” the windows. It wasn’t until I was literally up on the step-ladder that I figured out that I had miscalculated the number of lids I would need to do the job. So, to make the best of a bad situation, I decided to cover just the bottom halves of my window and Royce’s window. Since the bird had been fixating only on those bottom halves, I thought that might do the trick.
Well, guess what happened. The bird literally hopped up onto the top of one of the box lids and started pecking away at the upper half of my window. I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Is this bird from hell or what?” Whereas I had orginally thought it was the dumbest creature on earth, I now began to see a sinister brilliance to it.
But, of course, by now I wasn’t going to be outdone. Things had gotten way too personal. So I went back downstairs, found some more box lids, climbed back up the step-ladder, and boarded up every inch of those windows. And I have to say that effort finally produced peace in the house. At last the bird was beaten, beaten that is until a gust of wind blew down two of the box lids and left one corner of my window exposed. And, sure enough, not long afterward the bird was sitting on the ledge, slamming away at that one corner. Plan #4 had proved temporarily successful but needed a bit of tweaking.
So now it was time to bring out the heavy artillery, the one thing that no home project can be completed without: duct tape. I grabbed a roll, went back up the step-ladder, and taped the troublesome box lids to the side of the house. And that, at least for now, seems to have driven the final nail in the coffin of the epic struggle between me and the bird. Of course, the side of our house now looks like a bunch of lunatics live here, but at least we are lunatics who can sleep in on Saturday morning. How long will those box lids have to remain in our windows? I have no idea. It will probably involve the life span of that bird.
Okay, so now I come to the spiritual application of all this. Are you ready? It is two-fold and it goes like this: Like that bird, some people devote their entire lives to attacking themselves, and such people make life very, very hard not just for themselves but for others. Now, could it be that you can find yourself somewhere in that two-fold application? Maybe you are the bird who is constantly hurting yourself with your foolish behavior. Or maybe you are me, the person who is having to deal with the fallout of someone who makes a habit of harming himself or herself. Whichever role you might be playing, believe me when I say that it is not a pleasant one. And here’s one other thought on the subject: God doesn’t intend for any of us to live life through boarded up windows.