Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fine Feathered Foe

Despite the fact that we live in Charlotte proper, right off a major thoroughfare, our backyard is critter central. A few weekends ago, I walked out to find a doe as tall as me (not that that is saying much since I am a towering 5'4) grazing in our grass. Over the summer we had a black snake the size of a python (on this, I am not exaggerating) and two copperheads. We've had owls, bunnies, hawks, possums, and neighbors have mentioned that there are also raccoons in the neighborhood. While I'm no nature lover (wearing animal print is about as close to nature as I like to get), I can usually deal.

However, I am deathly, deathly afraid of birds. You all should be. They are just waiting for the opportune moment to pounce and peck all our eyes out. Horrible, terrible, gross creatures (H1N1 bird flu, anyone?). I have felt this way as long as I can remember and my family swears it is not due to some traumatic event during early childhood involving a toucan or something. And they never miss the chance to tell a good story, so there must not be any material there. If you have never seen the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds, watch and learn. A picture from that cautionary film to illustrate my point:

When I was fourteen or so, my parents got my younger brother a pet. Specifically, Pete the parakeet. You read that correctly. Knowing that I have a phobia of birds, my mom and dad brought one into our house. To live with us. Every time that bird fluttered in his cage, I lost years off my life. I was living in my own house of horrors. Luckily for me, on day two of his stay with us, Pete ate the little rubber ball in his cage and died. Although the only thing scarier than a bird is a dead bird. The thought sends shivers up my spine.

Fast forward to present. I really think they can smell fear. And then they come calling. Several weekends in a row, we have gone for our once-a-week dinner out. This usually consists of Jason's Deli and a trip to the bookstore--and I swear we are, in fact, under the age of 80. Anyway, upon returning home and going to unlock our back door, this winged creature of doom flies out of the porch over our door and scares the bejeezus out of me. Sometimes he is there, sometimes he is not. He enjoys the element of surprise. Allow me to introduce my nemesis:

There he is, all cozy and warm and waiting to inflict death upon us at any minute. And here I am, having heart palpitations just looking at the picture. We have tried various methods to scare this beast away and he is not bothered in the least by any of it--tack strips, sticky "bird away" goop, tape, nails, death threats....

Since he usually appears at night, I falsely assumed I was safe in the light of day. Last week, I walked up to the back door with plastic grocery bags stacked 47 deep on each arm--gotta get it all in one trip--and that terror swooped down from his perch and right past my head. I threw grocery bags like they were confetti and I was in Times Square on New Year's Eve and let out a blood-curdling scream that would wake the dead. Bird: 1, jar of olives: 0. Did I mention that I really love olives? I think he knew that.

The pathetic part is that I am such an animal lover, when Clint attempts to get rid of my fine feathered foe, I actually start worrying that he will hurt it. This creature is out to get me and I don't want anyone swatting it with a broom. My only hope is that it is steadily getting colder in North Carolina. Don't birds hate that? I hope our guest will leave his suite by the back door and head it on down to Florida to spend his winter sunning himself and learning backgammon at some fabulous retirement village.

Until then, unless I have a bodyguard in tow, I'm using the front door. Bye-bye, birdie.

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