Two, how could I complain about wildlife? I live in the city, although there are plenty of wild animals around, if you look.
Most of the year they’re fine. But in spring, the wildlife around here just bugs me. It’s that time of year when animals are all reproductive and emo and in your face with their needs. They’re selfish.
These are my main complaints about wildlife in spring:
I couldn’t tell you which kind, because most of the year they’re quiet and furtive and I don’t even see them. But in spring, neighborhood birds turn hyperactive and form gangs that wake me up every morning at 4am with their infernal screeching.
These birds don’t herald a spring morning by chirping sweetly.
I like to open my bedroom window at night to enjoy the springtime air. But that also means I have to put up with these feathered-dinosaur brutes on my block. They make such a racket that I have to get up and close my window to go back to sleep. I even run a gray-noise machine in my room to counteract city noises. But I still hear the birds.
I think they know it and they don’t care.
Trashy Bird Squatters
My beef with birds doesn’t end with noise. Every spring, birds take over my small back yard and trash it. Black birds, cardinals, sparrows, and mourning doves – they spend most of their time waging turf battles for nesting spots in my dense evergreen tree.
I always secretly route for the cardinals – yes, because they’re pretty and because I’m shallow – and I’m glad they won their nesting spot again this year (cardinals bring it!). But in all of the tussling, my slate patio underneath the tree gets pelted with a compound of pine sap and bird poop that maybe NASA engineers could remove but I can’t.
The bird poop problem hasn’t stopped there. Lately, some bird has made a perch of the rear-view mirror of my car, which is parked in a space behind my yard in the alley.
“Perch” is a polite word for it. I’ve walked out to find my car’s mirror caked in bird trots. The offending bird somehow projectile-poops across the car door, too, blanketing it with white rivulets of filth. This is wrong.
I spotted the perpetrator one day, a dove I think. I scared it away but by then it had already imprinted on my car: car = crapper. I reminded myself that, as a superior species, I had the capacity to thwart the bird.
I started tying plastic grocery store bags around both rear-view mirrors, to create a slippery surface that the bird wouldn’t want to land on. Like so:
It’s working. But the irony is not lost on me that I’m protecting my environmentally-friendly Toyota Prius hybrid with disposable plastic bags.
Obnoxious Duck Families
These scofflaws are the most irresponsible breeders on the planet. Come spring, mother hens lurch in front of heavy traffic to jaywalk all over the DC metro area, leading their jerky ducklings into mayhem without a care.
Look, I’ll always stop for a duck family; if necessary, I’ll even get out of my car and be their crossing guard. What chaps me is that the ducks know this and never show us commuters any consideration.
God forbid these vagrants use pedestrian walkways and signals, or listen to traffic reports and adjust their route. No. They’ll waddle across the busiest traffic arteries with their fuzz-ball babies tottering behind, wreaking havoc.
Like one morning last spring, as I drove to the mega-congested Mark Center in Alexandria during rush hour. I watched a black SUV five cars in front of me skid to the right as the rest of us slammed on our brakes. Sure enough, in-between the cars halted at odd angles ahead, I glimpsed a brood crossing six lanes of Seminary Road.
Duck families are coercive and I resent it.
They’re the worst! Fuzzy, tiny, squeaky, helpless. One will appear to you one spring day under a bush, alone, just off the sidewalk as you’re rushing to catch the Metro. It twitches and bleats.
You squee and bend down for a closer look. You steady yourself as all of your emotional armor built up over a lifetime crumbles. But you don’t know how to help the baby, so you walk away distraught.
Baby animals are sneaky and manipulative.
But if the squirrel in my backyard ever produced one of these:
It would be game over.
I’d probably tear out half of my shrubs to build a hutch for the mother and baby squirrel. Every day I’d leave them water and a bowl of shelled organic nuts from Trader Joe’s. No acorns for my darling.
I’d use my hand spade to bury some of the fancy nuts myself, so the little one would learn her life skills. But I’d mark the buried spots with party toothpicks so my precious charge could find the nuts easily.
I’d spoil my baby squirrel rotten.
Then in the evening, I’d watch the squirrel hutch from the shadows of my upstairs window. Blowing my hay-fevered nose until it bled, I’d weep tears of joy mixed with shame and tinged with fears for my sanity.
And you wonder why I’m not all woo-woo about spring?
[When you’re not annoyed by selfish wildlife in spring, consider donating to a local wildlife charity that helps sick and injured animals recover and return to their habitat. Find a group near you at: http://www.wildliferehabber.org/]