Thursday, June 24, 2010

We Have No Bushes!

About a month ago, maybe six weeks, these birds showed up outside my windows. There are two of them but they look alike so I think they might be a same gender pair. Keep in mind that "outside my window" doesn't mean "on a tree branch that gently sways in the wind" it means "on the melting hot black top of the roof of the bank below." I can't see a nest and I've looked. A lot.

Why a lot?

Well, these birds are loud. So loud. Squawky, angry, unrelentingly loud.

Turns out they're mocking birds* so they're supposed to be loud. Also, I'm supposed to be grateful that they haven't learned how to imitate a car alarm. There's a slim possibility that they're learning to imitate my cats, though. One of my cats has a really screechy meow, he came factory installed that way, I don't know how to change the settings. I'm sure now that these birds are specifically mocking my cats.

The squawking of doom starts up sometimes as early as 5am, sometimes later, sometimes in the evening. I've had to turn the TV up once or twice to be able to hear the dialogue over the avian complaint. The cats will pretend it's not happening. They will turn to face another direction with purpose but you can see the very tips of their tails and ears twitching with the effort. Finally after 15 or 20 minutes of this torture, with no apparent reason, they'll break and go tip toe stalking to the window screen and stare. They stare really hard. The birds yell back. Cats crouch. More bird shouts. I have actually seen the mocking birds flap their little wings like murder in order to hover briefly at cat eye height and screech more directly into the feline abyss. They're mocking not humming birds. They are not built to hover. It is a knee-slapper of an effort to watch.

I won't lie, the relentless nature of it gets to me sometimes. I want them to stop. I considered feeding them but realized quickly that would only make them squawk for more. When they fly up to the window sills on the floor above and then fly down to us over and over I've gone to the window myself, cat-like, to verify (for the 400th time) that there isn't a nest up there on my neighbor's air conditioning unit and they aren't teaching some babies to fly rather than taunting my feline overlords. There's no nest. And my going to the window only increases the cacophony. How do I convince them to shut up?

Well, so far I don't. And the other day I made peace with it because I realized that these dang birds are doing to my cats exactly what the cats do to every dog that comes into this house. They get disgruntled so they run to a safe distance. But they know the offender still resides in close proximity so they set up a siren. The longer the siren is ignored the louder it gets until the intruder cracks and retaliates so all hell truly breaks loose.

Those birds may be trying my patience but those cats totally deserve it.

*A neighbor identified them as mocking birds. I, of course, felt the need to check her facts. I'd seen the tails, the shape was similar to a blue jay. As was the godawful screaming. So I thought perhaps she was mistaken, perhaps they weren't mocking birds, perhaps they were mocking jays. Mocking jays are a thing. I'm no Audubon scholar but I've heard of them. Yeah, I've heard of them because they're a bird that Suzanne Collins totally made up and put in her fantastic Hunger Games series. So mocking birds. They're real. And they're shaped a little like blue jays.


    They're the state bird of Florida, and are in the thrasher family.

  2. They are still, at least occasionally, thrashing my cats.