There are a lot of things that I like in this world, but birds are not one of them. I actively dislike the winged monsters. They are terrible, and there’s a reason Alfred Hitchcock made an entire horror movie about them.
My disdain probably began in middle or high school. A family of mockingbirds made a nest in the tree outside my bedroom window – adorable, right? WRONG. The jerks made a daily habit of pointlessly pecking the wall outside, which created a loud tapping noise in my bedroom at the crack of dawn.
Who knows why they were doing this. Why, birds why?! What were you trying to accomplish? They have tiny brains, so even they probably didn’t know why. I was even less happy when the mockingbirds apparently either procreated, or invited their long-lost cousins to live with them, because the tapping grew even louder and more persistent.
At first, I attempted to solve the problem on my own. As soon as the birds woke me from my blissful sleep, I’d lunge across my bed in a fit of rage and bang my fist against the wall. Thankfully, the birds were perplexed and terrified by this noise, and scattered out of the tree. Mission accomplished!
…Until the fools eventually realized that their home was not spontaneously exploding. They appeared to start thinking of the bang as a sort of greeting; as soon as they heard it, they’d momentarily pause their tapping, only to resume it at an even louder volume.
My parents eventually got involved in the problem-solving, most likely just to make sure that I didn’t leave a fury-filled dent in the wall. On advice from my grandmother, they purchased cheap rubber snakes at the dollar store and planted them inside the bushes and trees outside my room. I was doubtful – I figured even the tiniest of bird brains would realize pretty quickly that their enemies never moved or blinked. (Technically, snakes never blink, but birds are stupid and probably don’t know that.)
It turns out, I was wrong. Bothered by the presence of the snakes, the mockingbird family packed up their things and moved on to another tree, never to disturb my sleep again.
No, that wasn’t some sort of happy ending to this story, because I have other reasons for hating the feathery bastards.
In elementary school, a couple of my teachers kept class pets – one of them, an African Grey Parrot named Murphy. I can’t speak for all Greys, but Murphy was basically the devil. He acted innocent and loving around my teacher, but anytime she stepped out of the room, Murphy would screech noisily and pace in his cage, glaring at us through the bars as though he were plotting our deaths.
Once, he managed to escape from his cage and chase us around the room. We all screamed and climbed on top of our desks, trying to avoid getting chunks of our flesh ripped out by Murphy’s big beak. The power-hungry dictator seemed pleased by his authority over us, and returned to his cage before our teacher ever knew he was gone.
Another time, I was driving on an access road and noticed a giant bird perched on a speed limit sign up ahead of me. When I tell this story to people, I sometimes identify the bird as a balding eagle or a pterodactyl, which it probably wasn’t. Don’t really know for sure. But it was definitely some sort of bird of prey, like a falcon or a hawk. As soon as my car got close to the sign, the bird chose that moment to swoop down from its perch. I screamed and closed my eyes (which is a great thing to do when operating a motor vehicle), and slammed on my breaks. I heard a light “thunk” as the bird’s wing hit my windshield, but the beast continued on its path, seemingly undeterred.
Clearly, the feeling of hatred is mutual.
The only person (or animal) who has ever come close to understanding how I feel is my parents’ neighbors’ cat, Garfield, who is now sadly deceased. Admittedly, Garfield was the one who instigated HIS troubles with the mockingbirds in the first place, since he seemed to make it his life’s goal to attack and kill a lot of them. (Which is pretty bad ass, considering that’s illegal in Texas.)
Eventually, word of the bird murders got out, and the remaining mockingbirds joined together to form a Bird Mafia and avenge their friends’ deaths. After that, every single time Garfield set foot outside, they’d swoop down from the trees and peck at the poor cat’s head.
I don’t necessarily hate all species of bird. Every once in awhile, I can admire a pretty blue jay or cardinal in the yard. I also find ducks to be quite cute and charming, and I once fed potato chips to a stray chicken at a gas station in Corpus Christi. (It was fun until he tried to get in the car with me. I wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment.) I also squeal and clap my hands in excitement when I see peacocks out in the real world – which has happened exactly three times.
Proof of my positive interactions with birds:
But my favorite bird of all, who is totally exempt from all my bird-related disdain, was my childhood pet, Bogie. Bogie was a sweet little Quaker parrot, with beautiful green and blue feathers. He could say certain phrases (like “good boy” and “thank you”), and he’d step onto your finger if you held it out for him. He was pretty amazing.
Like Murphy, Bogie had a talent for escaping his cage; unlike Murphy, however, Bogie used his skills for good instead of evil. His cage was kept in the living room, and if the rest of the family was gone from the room for too long, he’d come search for us – like a tiny little stalker. He probably just wanted to make sure we were still alive. Or to beg for treats. Either way, it was adorable.
The great irony of all my bird hatred is that the décor in my office at work includes birds. I want to like birds. For most people, they’re beautiful symbols of freedom and hope. But for me, they’ll always be screeching, wall-pecking, car-diving little demons.
And with that – Happy Halloween 🙂