Thursday, May 20, 2010

For the birds...Part One: Don't Mess With Crazy

This current event topic of my life has evolved at such a rapid pace, that I did not keep up with it here in blog-land. I think it is a tale worth telling...the story arc, the battle between good and evil, inner conflict, and of course...a hero. I don't anticipate anything else exciting happening in the next few days, so this will be a three part tale...

Have you ever met a barn swallow? They don't give a bad first impression, but don't let that fool you. About five years ago, we allowed a charming couple to build their fabulous mud nest on our porch...fascinating to watch...all mud (I'll continue to look for a photo, from way back when we were still enchanted enough to take photos for pleasure). After the babes flew we took the nest down-sayonara. That's the way the bird thing worked as far as we knew-at least that's what the robins had told us. Imagine our surprise when they rebuilt, and we took down, and they rebuilt, we took down, etc.

Subsequent seasons brought ruder relatives of theirs who must've been told about our palatial porch, complete with ledge for growing families. These birds are what I will call swoopers, in that they use a diving technique to show their feelings of bitterness towards anyone who intrudes on them. By intruding I mean things like, opening MY door to MY house, walking to my front door. They move up to the gutter along the roof of the porch and squawk about us until we take cover.

Another key feature of these birds is their damn near toxic poop. I had a scrub brush that was merely nicking the top layer off the concrete. I also used a power washer aimed right at the stuff from about two feet away...still a spot. So they live along the top inside ledge of the porch, and use the edge of the porch floor as their commode...the whole length of the porch.

This season, I decided to start early, and sprung into action at the first sight of the enemies. I looked up at the ledge where ghosts of failed efforts past stood...the wire that was too low and they built on top of it...the pieces of wood that did not quite span the entire length of the porch, leaving two corners with as good as a "for sale" sign on them...the memory of one of those inflatable creepy eye scare the birds away things (THAT was attractive...and useless!) It was time to get creative. I could see my husband in the window as I hauled out the ladder and climbed up with my inflatable ball and some empty water bottles, oh and masking tape (I know duct tape is really the answer, but I didn't have any!). A temporary fix as I needed to buy a little time (it's amazing how fast two birds can use their beaks to carry mud to build a foundation).

As to not actually be how I spent my weekend, I chose last Friday afternoon to borrow a power washer and get to work. I got the nest remnants down from the one corner, and got as much of their industrial strength poop off the porch. THEN, I showed these bird I meant business by crafting one corner out of water bottles. The other corner (well I forgot their was another corner, so that didn't get cleaned out as well) got my brink of insanity treatment as featured below...

I mean, come on, who's going to mess with a Mr. Crab sand sifter with two half-pint water bottles working back-up (the masking tape adds a certain pizazz as well). More importantly, who is going to mess with the person who thought this was a good idea. My hope was to let these barn swallows know that they were dealing with a touch of crazy lady. When I told my army neighbor my logic, he confirmed that the army knows that you just leave crazy alone--it's unpredictable. I then took bets with the children as to whether or not this plan would work. They were pessimistic, as you probably are, knowing there are two more parts coming to this story!

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