Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Calling Birds


So where have all the damned birds gone?

It's very distressing to read (along with the bees, which is downright scary) of the decline in bird species, especially our dear friend the sparrow. I must admit that I didn't really pay a great deal of attention to the little blighters in years gone by, so the full effect of their decimation will have passed me by. What I notice now is that there are - seemingly - just as many blackbirds as there always were; an awful lot of magpies, and of course the inevitable pigeons. There is a nice little colony of starlings on the patch of grass outside Scotland Yard, where I occasionally sit and eat my lunch, and I always aim my baguette crumbs towards them in preference to the columbine filth who bully their way around.

Little Star

Over Christmas lunch the other day in Crewe, I was interested to hear of the severe ornithophobia which my boss suffers. Pigeons apparently cause her to freak out, and she tells a story of a time in Stoke Newington when she saw a large number of the revolting creatures gathered around a load of Turkish bread in dumpsters behind the bakery, and - worse - actually flying around in the cooking area. She succeeded, by calling the Environmental Health Office, in getting the placed closed down.

I wondered if she was unable to watch the Hitchcock classic, but she told me that this film wasn't too bad as there are not too many close-ups of the beaked bastards in it. In any case, oddly enough, I guess The Birds is not really about birds.

Disney's Enchanted, on the other hand, was a total no-no, and she struggled to hold it together recently when she took a couple of young kids to watch this movie at the cinema.

Nelson or Drake?

I do have a repulsive pigeon story to top the Stokey bread one, but I forbore from sharing it with her, out of deference to her phobia. Oddly enough, I was working at Disney at the time, and the building was plagued by our feathered friends, who had managed to find their way into the office space on the top floor. I heard of a complaint about a smell coming from a riser cupboard and some strange scrabbling sounds, so went to investigate, accompanied by the cleaning manager and the handyman.

Caught in the act

And what a sight was to greet me. One of the birds had found its way into the riser through a small crack in the wall on the roof and had made a nest in the floor void just inside the door. She had laid her eggs, which had hatched, but could not then find her way back out again - so had died of hunger. Her chicks (and I don't blame them for this) exploited the only food source available to them - the corpse of their own mother. As the door opened and the light spilled onto them, they did what they had to and begged for more food. I did what I had to do and screamed like a girl.

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