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The F'ing Birds

The following article was written over the course of a 2 1/2 month period, chronicling my suffering.

After living in my new apartment for about a month it began to get pretty hot in This Glorious City and it was finally time to install my air conditioner. After fumbling with it for about 40 minutes and being convinced that I was going to drop it 3 storeys to its death I finally secured it into the window and stepped back to admire my work. I switched it on and shut my door, getting ready for the chilly slumber that awaited me.

I slept like a king that night, bundled up in blankets to keep warm from the arctic blasts coming from my window. Just the way I like it! The next morning I was awoken with a terrible scare. I could hear this horrible tweeting and chirping. I jumped out of bed in a panic. I knew I had a left a large gap between my window and my air conditioner but I had no idea that a bird would be able to fit through it.

House Sparrow
My Enemy: The North American House Sparrow
Upon further investigation I found no bird but the chirping did continue. The thing about birds is that they're enormously loud. It's all fine and dandy and heartwarming when birds are chirping quietly in the tree across the street but it's another thing entirely when they're babbling on on my window sill.

The idea of being woken up by a bird on your window sill sounds a heck of a lot more romantic than it actually is. The thing about birds is that they wake up earlier than me. A lot earlier than me. 5:30 A.M. to be exact. This is not my favorite time to wake up.

Not knowing what to do I stuffed the holes in my windows with some of my dirty socks and crawled back into bed thinking that I had scared off the birds, which I had. The only problem is that when birds are scared they only fly away for about 10 seconds. I could have popped one of their heads off with a can opener and drank the blood in front of the others and they would come flapping back 10 seconds later.

House Sparrow Eggs
Where the problem begins: North American House Sparrow Eggs

When the birds came back I snuck over to the window and yelled "Boo!" This is how desperate I was. When the birds came back I took off my socks and bundled them together like my mom used to do when she folded my laundry for me (coincidentally this was the last time my laundry was ever folded) and hurled them at the window with such force that I thought I may break the glass. Ten seconds later I threw my shirt, then my underwear, then a pillow, then another until I was lying naked on top of a mattress with clothing covering the air conditioner and floor.

Exhausted I decided to take a new strategy: I woud ignore them. This is impossible. Not only did they get louder but they started flapping their feathers and scraping at my walls as if they were putting effort into pissing me off. The noise was unbearable, reverberating in my skull like tiny shrill jackhammers. I started imagining myself getting ahold of one of them and squeezing the life out of it. How I would enjoy watching its final breath as I put an end to its existence. I would have certainly killed one of those birds if it were possible to catch one.

How could this be happening? The noise was so incredibly loud. Every time I thought I had heard the last chirp it would happen again and again. How many were there making that racket? I imagined that no less than forty to fifty birds were perched on my window sill but it was probably more along the lines of two.

Enraged, I raced from my room with my pillow to sleep on the couch but my blood was boiling. It was 7:30 and after about two and half miserable hours of sleep I was up for the day.

This continued on and off for the next week, the birds occassionally giving me a night to recouperate and then starting in on it again. What could I do? I couldn't kill them, they were too quick. Sometimes I'd be at my computer in the next room and hear them screaming and yelling from my bedroom.

House Sparrow Habitat
This is a map of the area that House Sparrows live in. You'll notice that they have had a better go of populating North America than humans have.
When I was in high school I dated a girl who's landlord would put alka seltzer tablets on his roof to kill the birds who perched their and ruined it with their acidic excrement. When a bird would eat the alka-seltzer it would be activated by the moisture in the bird's stomach and cause the bird's digestive tract to rupture and kill it. There were always dead birds falling off her roof and littering her lawn. This probably should have given me a clear idea of how this relationship was going to end but I was young and couldn't see the foreshadowing.

I always thought that guy was creepy for what he did to the birds but around 7:00 the morning of the first bird incident he was the only thing I could think of. He was a genius, my hero. I would try to get a little sleep and then go to the store and purchase a large amount of alka-seltzer tablets. I grinned maniacally as I imagined the birds getting their just desserts. The chirping kicked into overdrive and I couldn't stand it anymore.

Thinking with a clear head on my bird-granted day off I deemed the alka-seltzer method a little too harsh. I wasn't sure if killing was really the right thing to do. Finally I came to my senses and constructed a crude anti-bird device out of the flaps from a cardboard box. I jammed them into the holes in the window so that the birds wouldn't be able to land. Brilliant.

This left me with a little less than a week of relative peace and quiet. What I hadn't counted on was the rain. Rain and cardboard have this relationship worked out where when cardboard is hit by rain it disintegrates. I hadn't counted on this. Also to assure that they'd still do their declared duty of never letting me sleep, when the birds couldn't get into the window itself they had taken to sitting on my air conditioner and chirping.

Finally one morning I awoke at about 6:00 A.M. and declared that I would stop the birds. I got in my jeep and drove to my parents' house where I immediately went out back to the woodpile and searched for the proper lumber to construct my anti-bird device. When the appropriate board was selected I took it into my dad's workshop where I fashioned the first version of my device pictured below.

Spiked Board

"Let's see the birds sit on this!" I cackled as I carefully placed the spiked board in a cardboard box for transport.

When I got home I opened my window and there was a bird just sorta hovering in mid air, almost level with where the air conditioner was. I eyed him, he eyed me. I felt an overwhelming sense of dread as I watched him prove that he didn't need to sit on my air conditioner. I looked down forlornly at my spiked board, then back at the bird. The bird just hovered there and winked at me. How did he know!

Then I felt even more terrible as I realized what his game was. I looked at him as if to say: "Please no." The bird then hovered down out of my sight. I felt a wave of releif rush over my body and just as I turned around I heard chiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirp!

I spun back around on my heels to see the bird hovering in front of my window again and then he darted off towards the wires where his friends were hanging out.

I hadn't even gotten a chance to utilize my device, the bird had already rendered it useless.

Here I stood, defeated. A creature that probably weighs a little more than an empty Coke Can had outwitted me and made me into the broken shell of a man. By this time months had passed and I have since then seemed to have grown used to the annoying noise of the birds.

But in the middle of the afternoon after I have been awake for hours a bird will fly by my window and chirp loudly. Even though I am not being woken up I have a Pavlovian reaction to the birds and the same overwhelming dread fills my body once again.

Click here to hear the sweet sounds of the North American House Sparrow on my air conditioner.

I am currently writing a note to the National Audobon Society to beg them to reconsider changing the House Sparrow's name to the Nate's House Sparrow.

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