War in Suburbia

Speaking of pigeons, it’s almost Piazza San Marco under our bird feeder. I like the take of one of Lily’s friends, who calls pigeons by their more picturesque name, “rock doves.” They aren’t so bad, apart from the bird shit on the play set. Our seed feeder is motorized, so when a heavy bird or a squirrel tries to eat from it, they get flung off. It’s a gas to watch. At any rate, pigeons are ground feeders and don’t offer much flipping entertainment.

My avian nemesis is the cowbird. When cowbirds appear in the spring, I try to systematically chase them off. After a week or two of consistent chasing, they get the hint and leave. Cowbirds are parasitic, dumping other birds’ eggs from their nests and replacing them with their own. Last year I had a moral quandry about whether I should fault the birds for their evolutionarily crafty behavior, since it’s hard-wired into their nature. But by now, I’ve developed my own instinctive habit, which involves rushing outside, waving a section of newspaper, and either barking or screaming, “Shoo!” The girls can give a good imitation of me doing this.

Last night, with daylight savings in effect, there was enough light to play outside after dinner. Lily and Vivi hatched a crafty plan to dissuade the cowbirds. As Lily described it, “We’ll hide somewhere, and when they come down, we’ll throw these soccer balls at them.” Ambush!

It worked pretty well. The girls hid under their play set, and while her aim isn’t good, Lily’s enthusiastic bombardment did manage to chase off the cowbirds that had perched on the fence. Of course, this morning I was back to waving newspaper. Cowbird insurgency.

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