Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dear Landlord, there are birds in the attic.

There are birds in my attic.  Starlings.  My upstairs neighbor called me this morning to tell me that they were back.  My neighbor from across the street spotted them through the attic window a few days ago.  A self-professed lover of nature, she came knocking on my door to tell me that she could see them banging against the glass.  I have the only key to the attic, so bird removal duty falls on my shoulders.  We climbed the stairs to the attic and sure enough, the male starling was flying around, bumping into the fiberglass insulation hanging from the rafters.  There was bird shit on all the windowsills.  The bird seemed distressed, so we opened all three windows and headed down to the porch to drink beer.  Later, I went back up to close the windows and the bird seemed to be gone.

Going back up into the attic was not exactly what I wanted to do this morning.  I was listening to a radio interview with the editors of Lucky Peach, and I wanted to drink coffee and keep listening to them talk about food and the magazine.  Spring is an outstanding season because it makes me happy and flexible.  I drank coffee for another ten minutes and went up to the attic to check on the bird.  I found two of them.  They were happily walking around on the floor.  They looked kind of cute.  The neighbor told me that they were a health hazard.  I told her that the only health hazard they posed was to themselves.  I grabbed a cheap mop and encouraged them toward the front window.  I watched the male fly out.  I didn't see what happened to the female.  I think she exited first. 

The light this evening was really beautiful.  I went outside to take some pictures of the sun striking the roofs and eaves of the houses on my block because I wanted to write about the sky and spring.  I got lazy and decided that it would be just as well to photograph my own house.  I didn't walk around the block.  I walked around my house.  I remembered the birds.  I actually went into the attic twice today.  I went up the second time to investigate the eaves.  I wanted to find out how the birds were entering.  I found some little bits of straw tucked into a corner, and when I pulled the floorboard up I found more straw.  Someone was definitely building a nest, but I didn't have a flashlight, and I couldn't be sure that the straw was from this year and not some other year.  I went back downstairs and ran errands in Hadley.

I was walking around the house this evening, staring up at the eaves, when a third neighbor came out onto the driveway to talk to me about the birds.  I know that the birds are not entering through the chimneys because there is no egress into the attic from either chimney.  Anne, my neighbor, confirmed that she had seen birds going in and out of a hole in the eaves.  But this was before, and she had seen other birds, sparrows, not starlings.  Even so, Anne's report solidified my theory that the birds were entering the attic near the site of the straw.  I only needed one more piece of incriminating evidence.  

Look closely.  That male starling has a bit of straw in his beak.  That's my straw!  This bird is stealing straw mulch from my garden and carrying it into my attic because he wants to get laid and make more Starlings like himself.  I have to hand it to that bird.  He is onto something.  I watched him dicker with the straw for about a minute while the female starling sat on the nearby brick chimney.  She seemed unimpressed, but he seemed pretty self-satisfied up there with his straw.  For a bit.  The female remained on her chimney, and he remained on his.  Eventually he dropped his straw and stood there for a moment, looking dumb.  Then they both flew off to another roof.  


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