After I waxed Nostalgic and Reverent in my last post about birds, J. in Comments reminded me that a great many birds (as well as all sorts of other species in Nature) can be real assholes. It reminded me of an incident that I wanted to share with you. Several, actually, and as I began thinking more and more, I wondered if I was actually a Nature Appreciator after all. Many times Rick and I have had to wrest control away from the animals, and it has not been pretty. Especially when Rick gets involved.
(In any case, I am still Deeply Committed to my resolution to name all pesky critters after republicans, and I will photograph them and share them in a post later.)
But I digress.
One summer many years ago, we were awakened at an ungodly hour by the raucous and persistent screaming of crows. It wasn't even quite light outside yet, and the noise was jarring. It kept up, back and forth and back and forth, for over an hour. It was close, too, and I had it pegged to the huge evergreen in the yard catty-corner behind us. We shut our bedroom windows, but it didn't really help; our house is tiny, and the rest of the windows in it were open. That sound rocketed around the whole place, and we couldn't go back to sleep. I really felt bad for Rick, who was not on summer vacation like me and the boys. He had a full day's work ahead of him. We could take it easy all day. The boys, by the way, slept through it all the way children often do.
We had never seen a crow in the neighborhood, so we figured it was an anomaly and that there wouldn't be a repeat performance. We were wrong. For days and days, we were awakened at first light by this screeching serenade. Rick was exhausted; I was frustrated and angry. We were able to see our tormentors in the boughs of the pine tree, just as I had thought. What sounded like a whole gang was only two crows. With horror, I contemplated the idea of them nesting there.
Finally, one Saturday morning, Rick had had enough. "That's it!" he said. "I'm done with this bullshit." He bolted from our bed, clad only in his boxer briefs. I sat up. "What are you going to do?" I asked, more than a little fearful. He looked weary, grim, and to be honest, desperate.
He didn't even answer me. The next thing I heard was his heavy footfall on the steps to the back door. I heard the door open, and I leaned to look out the window. What I saw next must have made me turn into the embodiment of Edvard Munch's The Scream.
There was my husband, on our deck in the back yard, lying on the chaise longue in his underwear, aiming the Daisy BB gun rifle up into the towering pine, and calmly firing at the crows. After each shot, he quickly cocked it, returned it to his shoulder, lined up the sight, and fired again. Over and over, he repeated this, never changing his expression until once he said, "Got him" with satisfaction and a brief, one-sided smile. I knew the little Daisy couldn't kill a crow, especially at that distance, but I knew it could sting it, and it could definitely discourage it. I hoped our birdbrained alarm clock was finally broken.
It's probably worth noting that our neighborhood in a tightly-packed little suburb is an old street where houses are separated only by the width of a narrow driveway. We can hear one another sneeze inside our homes, and our neighbor to the west had an elevated deck, flush with the top step out of her back door. She probably wouldn't have been the least bit surprised, however, to have come out and looked down upon that particular tableau. Her son used to call my husband "Funny Rick." (But my sons were his babysitters.)
The Boxer Brief BB Gun Caper did solve our crow problem. The pair left, and we have not had a crow landing since. No neighbors witnessed the event, and as far as I know, no wildlife was harmed in the process. This time. But because Rick is often called upon to rescue us from Wildlife, he has tangled with many, many varmints. I think this may have to be a series.