For The Birds

I’ve never been a big fan of birds. I’m unnerved by the parts of them that are dangerous. Look at those feet! So pointy! And their faces also come to a point! A super-sharp, eye-pecky point! Seriously, they’re like little, feathery weapons of war.

They’re monsters!

I also dislike birds because in the movie, The Birds, those avian psychopaths killed sexy schoolteacher Suzanne Pleshette while sparing the lives of personality vacuums Rod Taylor and Tipi Hedren.

I mean, really, birds? Really?

But the main reason I’ve never liked birds is because they poop. They poop on my car, they poop on my lawn furniture, and, many years ago, when I was window shopping in Ridgewood, NJ, a pigeon pooped on my head.

So birds suck. Everyone who knows me knows that I think birds suck. The innate suckiness of birds is one of my favorite discussion topics.

So you can just imagine my wife’s and son’s surprise a few months ago when I told them what I wanted for Fathers’ Day.

A birdbath?!” Alex sputtered. “You want a birdbath? I thought you hated birds because of that movie where they pecked Suzanne Sommers or whatever.”

“Suzanne Pleshette,” I sighed. “Birds can peck Suzanne Sommers every day for eternity, for all I care.”

“They poop, you know,” Ellen added. “I vaguely remember hearing a story about a pigeon pooping on your head. I might be misremembering it. You’ve only told me about it four million times.”

“The birdbath wouldn’t be for birds,” I explained. “It would be for my squirrels. I want a birdbath without a pedestal so it can be on the ground, near where I throw their peanuts. They can drink from it.”  

Oh, how I love squirrels. Everyone who knows me knows that I love squirrels. I love them almost as much as I hate birds. They’re so sassy and funny and full of personality. I could watch them all day.

Also, squirrels don’t poop on my car, so they’re kind of perfect.

“Birds are gonna show up,” Ellen warned.

“Not if my squirrels have anything to say about it.”

The squirrels in my yard are ornery and territorial. I’ve personally seen my favorite squirrel, Serpentine Shel, backhand a crow. I knew I could depend on my rodent pals to maintain the status quo.

Fathers’ Day arrived and I got my birdbath. I was ecstatic. I wasted no time setting it down and filling it up. I tossed a few peanuts nearby and waited for my squirrels to enjoy their new watering hole.

And they couldn’t have cared less.

Even lazy Fatty McGee, a squirrel seemingly designed to lounge poolside for hours on end, wanted nothing to do with it. Fatty and Company just ate their peanuts and split.

I was miffed.

But not nearly as miffed as I was when all the birds showed up.

They came from everywhere. Robins, cardinals, blackbirds, blue jays, doves, a woodpecker, and a bunch of tiny yellow and brown ones I couldn’t identify. Jillions of them! A simple cement saucer turned my side yard into Bird Disneyland.

“Dangit!” I grumped.

“Told you,” Ellen said.

So now I was stuck with a bunch of stupid birds fluttering around right outside of my kitchen window. Worst Fathers’ Day ever.

But as I crabbily watched them each and every morning, I noticed, perhaps for the first time ever, that birds are kind of pretty.

I also noticed that they were kind of fun to watch, too. They were messy, splashy bathers, yes, but I was charmed by their enthusiasm. They loved my birdbath. They appreciated its existence. And because they appreciated it so much, I started to put in an effort to maintain it. I kept if full of cool water, I scrubbed out the algae.

And maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I could totally tell that they were grateful.

Dang! I thought, birds are kind of cool.

I soon started to recognize the regulars. I’m especially fond of a chunky robin who shows up every morning at the crack of dawn to avoid the crowds. He plants his butt in the water, floofs his feathers, and zones out.

If I have a bird spirit animal, he’s the guy.

Long story short, I’m a changed man.

I have been unfair to birds. They’re not as bad as I thought. Not even close. I’ve even come to accept that the reason Pleshette died in The Birds and Hendron didn’t was because Alfred Hitchcock had a thing for blondes.

I guess she’s pretty.

Every morning I take pleasure in peeking out of my kitchen window to see my birds all happy and flappy. They make me smile. I like birds. I like them a lot.

But if any of them even thinks about pooping on my head, all bets are off.

65 Replies to “For The Birds”

      1. I was pooped on too. JUST got done in the shower, hair dried and fixed. Went to get in the car and it got me on my steps. Had to start over!!!

        Ok, you are my friend again.

      2. lol……………..

        Did you see my story around Christmas time of ’18 or ’19 when I got to hold a momma cardinal for like 15 minutes?

  1. Hilarious! A seagull pooped on me in Tahoe. It’s not fun to be the one targeted by that mess.
    Also- two of my three most recent blog posts are about birds! Can I suggest a hummingbird feeder as your next gift request?

  2. I’m glad you’ve come to appreciate birds’ beauty and snarkiness. There’s a hierarchy at our suet. Nuthatches trump chickadees, woodpeckers trump nuthatches, evening grossbeaks come when no one else is around, and scatter when stellar jays arrive. We also have a “clean-up crew” on the railing and deck: towhees and squirrels. The robins are out in the garden making sure we aren’t overrun by earthworms. Not to mention the Raven Shapeshifters that hang out in the cedar trees.

  3. That movie terrified me for life! I wouldn’t go outside for some time if because I was sure there were birds out there. Still, to this day, I don’t like birds and want nothing to do with them. Mostly I keep that a secret so people won’t think I am mean but I thought we were being kindred spirits. Until, you went over to the other side. I still hate birds. Except for Puffins. I love Puffins.

    1. There were always exceptions to my “I Hate Birds” rule. Puffins and Penguins were always in my good graces. How could they not be? (In fact, a certain picture book about a penguin is coming out next year. Foreshadowing!) Also there’s this parrot online who sings where his person plays an electric guitar. I liked him, too.

  4. You’re a changed man, Mike. Birds are kind of fun, and you actually do start to recognize their personalities. Since we are finally petless, we’ve adopted the squirrels and birds and they’ve become quite abundant in our yard. Enjoy the splashing. I know they appreciate the new bath. 🙂

  5. So true about Hitchcock and the blondes. Good thing I wasn’t in one of his movies. Also, a squirrel back-handing a crow? Ha! (Also, for real?) This was very entertaining. Thanks, Mike! Oh, and I also was pooped on the head by a bird. It was probably a pigeon. Darn pigeons!

    1. Okay, you got me; the squirrel didn’t *backhand* the crow, it was more of a leaping kick thing. The point is, Serpentine Shel asserted his dominance. And how!

      Bird poop victims unite! The next time a bird gives you that crap (literally or figuratively) I hope you give him a few nasty taekwondo bruises. That’s what your training for, right?

      1. Way to go, Shel! And you are correct: TKD is all about busting wings. And chops. “I’m looking at you, Porky,” she says to a pig. “Stay out of my way.”

  6. Mikey,
    I am so glad your blog ended with you not hating birds anymore. I also got pooped on as I was out riding my bike one day, minding my own business. It is super gross. But I didn’t hold it against them. That’s what they do. We’ve also seen them hit the large window in our living room with poo, AND one day we came home to a whole bunch of goose poo all over the garage door. Like dive bombers. I don’t see how you’re flying over and are able to send your poo in a certain direction?
    We feed the birds in the winter, which turns into feeding the squirrels as well. It is a lot of fun to watch the squirrels’ antics when they’re trying to get seeds from the feeder. So even though they’re technically tree rats, I have grown to enjoy watching them.
    I have wanted a bird bad for the past couple years, but my husband doesn’t want to have to mow around it. Since he takes care of our acre, I can’t really insist. We put a hummingbird feeder up a couple of years ago, and it was parked right next to the large window in the living room so I could watch them from my chair. Would you believe I’d never seen one before? All true.
    And I too, was frightened by Alfred’s movie when I was a child. It is really amazing how many people I’ve run into who saw that movie as a kid and were scared by the birds.
    Adios Amigo.

      1. Another bird poop victim! This can’t be an accident. This well-aimed defecation is tactical–and contemptuous! Here you are, feeding the buggers year round and what do they do? They divebomb your garage, mess up your windows, and seek out your head.

        Far be it from me to tell you how to live your life, but are these birds *really* your friends?

  7. Well then… that was a turn of events, huh?? I don’t have a birdbath, but I do have a bird feeder that hangs on a large hook outside my office window. It is a lot of fun to watch them all come and eat. I have a speckled woodpecker that is really pretty and fun to watch because he is so large, he has to hang upside down and peck the feed out of the tiny holes. The seeds land on his tummy. It’s the cutest thing ever!!

    BUT I have to keep the squirrels OUT so I put a slinky on the hook and it does the trick. No squirrels can get the feed but they do clean up the ground. Now if I can just find a way to get them to take away the sunflowers shells when they are done… hmmm…

    1. Who woulda thought that the humble Slinky would befuddle brilliant squirrels everywhere? Be careful though. Squirrels will figure out a Slinky strategy eventually and when they do, their brains will have evolved to the point where they’ll be able to pick locks and raid your pantry whenever they feel like it.

  8. Hahahahahahaha. I can’t stop laughing. First, that ANYONE could be so cold-hearted as to hate birds but be able to describe that hatred so humorously made me laugh like crazy. Then your descriptions of squirrels (the very animals I often call minions of Satan) were even funnier. But I was beginning to think maybe I should pay you a visit to help you get your head straight. After all no one should be able to see the wonderfulness of capybaras, yet not be able to recognize the beauty of birds!

    Thankfully, I stopped packing my bags long enough to read the rest of your post and discovered that you have become a reformed bird hater. Now THAT’S more like it! I’m proud of you for being able to admit that you do, indeed, enjoy your feathered friends these days. And I hope you’ve forgiven the squirrels for not appreciating the birdbath you got them. (They really only qualify as minions of Satan when they find ways to get into my “squirrel-proof” feeder and eat a week’s worth of food in an hour! Mostly, I love them, too.)

    As always, a treat to read one of your posts, Mike. I love how your mind works!

    1. Oh, Marcia! To know that my bird hate made you so upset–even for a minute or two–fills me with grief. I am sorry.

      I am very troubled by your dislike of squirrels, however. Squirrels perform a public service! They show you in no uncertain terms that the words “squirrel” and “proof” can never convincingly be put next to each other. By eating from your “squirrel proof” feeders, they are (in their own special way) warning you about the international cabal of squirrel proof bird feeder scammers out there–the amoral lowlifes who are always willing and eager to separate you from your money.

      “They lied to you!” your squirrels are saying as they cram their cheeks with sunflower seeds. “Don’t let The Big Bird Feeder Industrial Complex take you for another penny!”

      And you’re not even paying attention. For shame.

      But it’s never too late to mend your ways. Now that you know what your altruistic squirrels are up to, you might want to spend your squirrel proof bird feeder budget on extra seeds for your new furry friends. They deserve it.

      1. Sorry I’m late getting back to you, Mike. It’s been a heck of a couple of weeks around here. We had a serious storm that took down our gazebo and half of the fence between us and our neighbors. BUT. The good news is (I’m sure you’ll agree) … NO bird feeders were hurt in this storm at all. Both the birds and those sneaky little–yet enviably brilliant–squirrels are totally happy. 😁

        BTW, just so you know I don’t REALLY hate them, even when they refuse to share the seed that was actually bought for birds, here’s this: When I was active with Florida Audubon, I took in orphaned birds AND squirrels. I can’t begin to count the number of baby squirrels I bottle fed until they were weaned and old enough to fend for themselves.

        There. That should be enough to convince you that I’m not totally without merit as a caring, animal loving, capybara adoring human being. 😊😊😊

        PS, no need for grief. I somehow knew your anti-avian tale would have a happy ending. 😊

      2. I do live in Florida now, Mike. I’m a native, born and raised here, though I’ve lived elsewhere now and then for short periods of time. Still, as much as my heart belongs to the North Carolina mountains, I do enjoy many things about my home state, not the least of which would be the wealth of interesting wildlife. I’m a big fan of snakes, alligators, lizards, birds, and furry critters, including our 3 varieties of squirrels. Always something interesting going on, even in urban backyards. 😊

  9. I’m glad you’ve decided birds are okay. We had a pet magpie when I was a kid (yes, one of those deadly Australian birds that attack walkers and bike riders every spring and summer during nesting season) who loved my dad to bits but got him into lots of trouble by wolf whistling at girls as they walked past our front yard. 🙄
    My friend has a family of Magpies call on her every afternoon and knock on her patio door for strips of steak or mealworms. They’re just like a flock of hungry gannets.

    1. A cat-calling magpie! And where did your feathered friend learn that sexist move, I wonder?

      On a different note, Are Australian homes often stocked with mealworms in the event a magpie family comes to visit unannounced?

      1. Not sure where he learnt it, but definitely not from my Dad, he was 70 at the time and in poor health. He was 60 when I was born. LOL no, not usually meal-worms, but generally there’ll be ground beef.

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