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.
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.
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.