Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Birds

Grams has a problem with birds. I don't like them. I love how they look and I have a few ceramic birds that belonged to my Mom. I think birds are beautiful, but I don't want to interact with them. To tell you the truth, they freak me out a little.

There are several things that cause me to feel this way about birds, not the least of which is the old Hitchcock movie "The Birds." Then a couple of years ago, when leaving my office one day, I noticed a baby bird on the ground. I didn't really pay it any attention and just walked on by it. So there I was, minding my own business, when all of a sudden, I was dive-bombed from behind. Apparently the mother bird thought I was too close to her baby and she flew at the back of my head. She hit me with her wings as she flew past, then turned around to come back for more. Needless to say, I hightailed it to my car.

Birds don't really seem to like me any better than I like them. I once walked in to my friend Linda's house and her parakeet started fluttering around my head. He didn't really attack me, but it wasn't something I wanted to repeat.

The only bird I've ever been on friendly terms with was my mother's pet cockatiel, Jo-Jo. She had him for several years when I was in junior high school. Jo-Jo was allowed to fly around the house, walk around on the floor, and often sat on Mom's shoulder while she was washing dishes. He would walk around on the table while my parents played cards or dominoes with friends. Jo-Jo could talk. He said, "Jo-Jo's a pretty bird" and a few other innocuous things. He was very attached to Mom. Then, my Mom was seriously injured in a traffic accident and was hospitalized for more than 3 months. During the 3 months Mom was gone, my brothers taught Jo-Jo to swear. On one of the first days she was home Jo-Jo said "G*d dammit" in earshot of my mother and that was it. When we came home from school the next day, there was no evidence that Jo-Jo had ever been there. She gave that bird away, cage and all.

Now, we have a recurring problem at our house. A few years ago, when we had vinyl siding put on our 3-side brick home, we also added an aluminum patio cover. The original cover was lattice and didn't do much to shield the patio, which is on the west side of the house, from the blazing hot South Texas sun. The patio cover is attached to the house with a rain gutter which runs along the edge of the roof. We rarely use our patio and back yard, because most of the year it's hotter than the face of the sun. Occasionally we fire up the barbecue pit on the patio and, when the grand-dogs visit, we go back there to play with them. Otherwise, it's just empty and hot.

For the past several years, birds have nested in these gutters and hatched their eggs. Now, I don't really care if the birds live in my rain gutters. It hardly ever rains here anyway. Since Grandad can't climb ladders any more, it's difficult to get them clean. In order to clean out the gutters thoroughly, someone would have to climb up on the roof. We have had limited success cleaning them out with the leaf blower. But I don't have the heart to clean them out once the birds have laid their eggs. Our best bet would be preventing them from nesting there in the first place.

The problem is that these rain gutters run right down the side of our bedroom. You may have already deduced that Grams is not a morning person. I don't really want to interact with anyone or anything at sun-up. However, these baby birds wake up with the sun and they start to chirp ... loudly. It makes me crazy; the sound is repetitive and continuous. There is nothing melodic about the noise they make. There's no chance that Grams will be able to go back to sleep.

We've looked at various and sundry products that are designed to keep birds out of gutters. Nothing we've tried works. We have screen covers that go over the top of the gutters, but the birds still get in under the edge of the patio cover. For now, I'm just gritting my teeth and trying not to hear them. If anyone knows of a solution, we'd love to hear about it.

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