Published June 01. 2013 4:00AM
Just when I finally stymied a greedy, blueberry-gobbling catbird by repairing and reinforcing a netted enclosure around the bushes in my garden, which loyal readers recall I chronicled last week, a new avian aggravation has materialized.
A pair of cardinals has decided to set up their domicile not far from the side of our house – no problem there; I enjoy watching them flit by, flashes of red against green pine and rhododendron – except that the birds evidently misinterpret their reflections in a sliding glass door and adjoining window panes as winged interlopers.
And so the two birds have been slamming themselves repeatedly against glass for the past several days. I’m not exaggerating: Every 10 seconds from dawn to dusk there’s a whack, followed by angry squawks, chirps, whistles and other ornithological recriminations. It’s a wonder they haven’t collapsed from exhaustion, sustained broken wings or suffered nervous breakdowns.
At first I thought the birds were trying to get inside the house, either to build a nest in a more weather-protected environment or to snag fringe from a rug to help with construction, but my wife did some research and learned that they were simply trying to drive away that “other” pair of cardinals.
I guess this helps explain the origin of the term bird-brained.
More to the point, their behavior perfectly matches the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. These are cardinals with advanced obsessive-compulsive disorders.
My wife tried papering over parts of the windows, but that’s a lot of glass to cover, not to mention keeping the paper intact against rain and wind. Also, it would convert a sunny south-facing room into a dungeon. Unfortunately, all it takes is one sliver of glass exposure to set the cardinals off on their territorial imperative-driven tirades.
Some sources say that birds often continue attacking windows for months during the mating season, which means it could be a long, noisy summer.
I may employ one of those plastic owls supposedly designed to scare off such pests as gulls from boat decks and crows from gardens , but I often see many feathered species perched contemptuously nearby, or sometimes right on top of the faux predator, so I have little confidence.
I also have noticed that the cardinals retreat temporarily if I sit next to the glass door – but they return the instant I move away. I may try making a dummy and placing it on a chair, but I think even a bird-brained cardinal would quickly catch on.
So it has become a test of wills. In time, one of us will give up. I’m not betting on the cardinals.
Pacific Trail Update
Back in April I wrote about Mystic native Hilary Sueoka and her boyfriend, Dan Stedman, who were about to embark on a five-month, 2,650-mile hike of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail from the California-Mexico border to the Washington-Canada line.
I’m happy report the couple is progressing rapidly and having a terrific time.
Here’s an email I received from Hilary the other day:
“It finally feels like we've finished a good section of hiking. We made it to Kennedy Meadows yesterday at mile 702, and are taking a zero here today. Sierras, here we come! We should get our bear boxes this afternoon, but have to wait for the store to re-supply at the general store since so many hikers have been coming through.
“We are still ahead of the main pack that started on ‘kick off’ weekend, but the fast ones are catching up. So far, we have been averaging 20 miles or so each day, our biggest was 27, but with the elevation (and how awesome the Sierras are,) we plan to slow down a bit in this next section and take our time.
“Our packs will be heavy with food after this resupply, but both of our base-weights ended up being far under 30 lbs, more like 15. No major problems yet, just the standard blisters and foot swelling, joint pain, etc. (My feet swelled a whole size! Ordering new shoes now...)”
Great to hear from you, Hilary! Stay in touch, and I wish you and Dan continued success on your epic journey.