This is a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and it is so apt. Because this is probably going to happen to me soon.
Anybody that knows me knows that I am not exactly what one would label an “animal person”. Please don’t misunderstand me. It’s not like I seek out cats to torture or take pleasure in cruel practices and neglect. I’ve had pets (they’ve all died but that isn’t my fault. It isn’t. Shut up) that I’ve doted on, over which I have shed tears and proclaimed the brevity and fickleness of life when they have passed on.
My point is that I am not some heartless sadist who hates animals – I’m just not a person who particularly adores them either. They’re cool and all but I’d choose my sister over a dog. This is my point.
Anybody that knows me also knows that I am a reasonably light sleeper. I wake up when doors shut somewhere in my house. I wake up when I receive a text even when my phone is on silent. I wake up when my next door neighbour’s child coughs while out in the garden. It is a gift and a curse. One the one hand, I know that if an intruder breaks into my house at night, I will be waiting for him with a hockey stick and a cup of homemade mace but on the other hand, it means that my sleep and therefore my sanity is at the fickle mercy of silence.
Dear friends, I am a woman on the edge.
About six weeks ago, I was jarred from my slumber by the sound of a birdcall. This was no ordinary birdcall of the sort pontificated on by Mills & Boon writers; a gentle, sweet birdsong that floats in through the open window and wakes Fernando and Genevieve from their post-coital slumber. No, this sound was positively violent. It sliced through my sleep like the jaws of life through a Datsun. It sounded – not to put too fine a point on it – horrifying. It was loud. It was persistent. It was not birdsong, it was birdscreech and I did not welcome it.
After I had ascertained that:
- I was not dreaming
- A bird had not flown in through my open window, become trapped and was now panicking and screaming in protest,
I staggered to my window and peered outside to see if I could locate the distressed bird (my area is crawling with deranged cats so I thought one had snared the poor thing). I stared into the branches of the magnolia tree and I craned my neck so I could see the satellite dish and the edge of my roof but they were distinctly bird-free. I thought nothing more of it and went about my business for the rest of the day thinking that the bird would eventually run out of steam and stop or become bored and fly away.
Only this did not happen.
I know that I am sometimes prone to hyperbole, friends. I know this. But I am not exaggerating when I say that this bird and its ilk have become the bane of my existence since that morning six weeks ago. At first it was just that one bird that I could never find, no matter how hard I stared or where I looked in my garden. And then I suppose the sound of the screeching attracted a mate so that now, the feathery bastards could scream their adoration to each other while I shook with frustration and fatigue in my bed. Six weeks later and a whole host of them have taken up residence not just in my garden but in the entire street.
Sleep? *chortle* what is that?
My mornings look like this:
- 4:30AM or thereabouts: be rudely awoken by the sound of one or more birds bellowing at each other.
- Fall out of bed and fling window open in a bid to scare off birds. Fail.
- Slam window shut in a bid to scare of birds. Fail
- Shout in frustration. This does not scare off the birds but they do flutter about from one place to the other as if to say “gosh, how rude. Come, dear friends, let us band together to drown out the human.
- Return to bed (possibly in tears) and cram torn Kleenex in ears hoping to get an extra two hours of sleep. Sometimes fail.
It got so bad over the Jubilee weekend that I grabbed my hockey stick, ran outside and started swinging it blindly only to find one of my tenants leaning against the back door watching me with ill-concealed amusement.
He: What…are you doing?
Me: Trying to scare off the birds. I’m so tired. So, so tired.
He: What birds?
Me: The…well they’ve all flown away now.
Me: THEY HAVE. THE HOCKEY STICK MUST HAVE WORKED
He: Yes. It was the hockey stick *backing away slowly*
Then they return and sit on the garden fence scream-laughing at me and I just can’t take it anymore. It is like nature’s version of mob mentality. I feel like I’m going to wake up one day and they’re all going to be lined up on my windowsill wearing flat caps and clicking their wings.
If I could, I would cook and eat each and every one of those inconsiderate, beaky yobs.
After much googling, I think I have identified the culprits as chaffinches and now, dear friends, I need your help. HOW DO I GET RID OF THEM? Have any of you had this problem? When will they go away? Do I just have to wait it out? And, have any of you tried chaffinch meat?
It is now a mere four days until I leave for New York. Obviously, I left excited a little way back and am now riding through the streets of insanely thrilled and slightly incoherent due to bird-related exhaustion. I will be flying out on Monday so if you are going to be in the city at any time from the 11th – 21st of June, please drop me a line so we can meet up and you can marvel at how much less interesting I am in real life.
Also please leave suggestions of places to go and places to eat because really, the food is the number 2 reason I’m even going.
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Stereo. 20-something aspiring bon vivant. London based. Exceptionally Nigerian. Partial to snark. My default setting is "wry". Jeans and blazers are my uniform. Landlady. Speed reader, tuneless singer, hoarder of words, drinker of Schloer; I am suspicious of most people, have zero tolerance for tomfoolery, have a vast DVD collection, worship at the altar of Al Green, own too many bottles of nail polish, have small eyes, small ears and giant hair and owe approximately 86% of my awesome to the Parents Typewriter.
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