Friday, April 09, 2010

Jurassic Park

I have a thing about birds, I don't like them. Well, I like blue jays and hawks which is weird because the jays are mean and the hawks kill. But generally I don't like birds, they're prehistoric, like little dinosaurs. Cold-blooded and calculating. Except ducks. I like them.

I didn't realize just how scared I am of birds until yesterday. Background - we live in a top floor flat. You enter the building through a gate. You can either go up the steps past the first flat to ours or through a locked door to into the basement. There is also a back stairway down to the garage. But there is a door locked from the wrong side, so coming down the back you can only get into the laundry room and out the back door, not to the garage or front gate. It is pretty convoluted, and my greatest fear is getting trapped in the garage without my keys because you have to have one to get out.

Yesterday as K. and I rounded the corner to our front door, I noticed bird poop and chips of paint on the steps. There's a skylight at the top of the stairs so I thought that maybe it broke open and a bird was sitting there. Wrong! There was a bird flapping around and chirping, trapped in the stairway. He had been crapping himself in fear and pecking away at the skylight. We dashed in the front door and closed it firmly.

Panic immediately set in. We were trapped upstairs because there was no way I was going back out with the bird. And I had laundry to do! Plus I was worried about it freaking out and dying on my doorstep. And my fear of birds is nothing compared to my phobia of dead things. I freely admitted to my kid that I was scared of birds. He said he wasn't and that the bird was signing us a song. I let him think that the tortured squeaks and squawks were music and not a harbinger of death.

Now I have been "swooped" by starlings protecting their nest in the past. Since it was outdoors, and funny behavior, it didn't really bother me, I could escape. One block I lived on was particually bad. We may have sat in the parked the car and watched others get swooped for amusement. But this was different. The bird was panicked and I was trapped. I kept picturing a scene from The Birds ending with me leaping out a second story window.

I called Mr. TVP for advice. He said I could either kill it or try to lure it out by opening the back doors so it would feel the breeze and head in the right direction. It seemed weird to potentially lure it into the basement, and I didn't want it to die down there, but I wasn't thinking straight. So I hatched a plan to go down the back and open the backdoor and the two aforementioned interior garage doors. I would also venture as far up the stairs as I could with bread crumbs, leaving it a trail to freedom.

The first snag I ran into was the fact that my keys were in the front door, on the wrong side. No way was I opening the door even an inch to to reach out and grab them. The bird could have pecked my hand off or come into the apartment. And then he'd really be trapped since I have all our windows double locked due to the kid. And the back stairway is closed in by chicken wire (to keep pigeons out). But I had to have a key in to get to the front stairs, so I grabbed all our spare keys and jammed them in my pocket. Then I grabbed a piece of bread.

Next obstacle was the grill on the back door step which I had to crawl under and around. (We don't use the back stairs because they are creepy and you can see right into the neighbor's kitchen. Plus, the pigeons.) Managed that and got to the bottom of the stairs face to face with the door that is bolted from the other side, which I had forgotten about in my panic. At least I had my cell phone, so I made a panicked call to my downstairs neighbor. I explained the situation and she ran down the front stairs and let me into the garage. She agreed that birds are scary.

I opened the back door, propped open the interior garage doors, and laid a trail of crumbs down the stairs. As I was calling "here birdy, birdy", a dark figure came through the gate. I jumped and then was relived to see it was Mr. TVP dressed all in black, not a giant crow. Luckily he was nearby and had decided to come home early. I guess he didn't understand from my call where the bird was because he asked why I would want the bird to fly into the basement. Sigh.

I showed him my bread crumb trail and explained my plan. He shook his head, sighed, and asked for a shop towel. I asked him not the kill the bird. I pictured him wrapping it up and setting it free outside, but I didn't think he could catch it since the ceiling height is ten feet up there. All of a sudden he is yelling to shut the garage door. Which was kind of hard since I was cowering all the way in the back of the laundry room.

As I dashed to close the door, he announced the bird was gone. It had walked out the front gate. Amazed, I asked him how he did it. He said he flapped the towel around and shooed it down the stairs. Genius! Some comments were made to the effect that a pick-up, country music, and a cowboy hat do not a city kid transform. Whatever.

I later exulted in my freedom with a trip to the grocery store.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

In that case you would go bonkers if you met my chickens! Whenever I step into the yard, they come racing at me, looking exactly like a herd of mini-dinosuars.