The Bird Blues

This post is dedicated to the best father in the world. Thanks Dad for your sense of humor and for the many memories of us laughing together as a family. I hear your voice in some of my writing and it [almost] makes me feel like I’m home.

Knowing what we know now about the birds in our yard, we might have invested in a good pair of earplugs, such as these:

Earplugs (not of African origin)

Instead, we are plotting a slingshot attack.  Slingshots are readily available in the Tanzanian market, unlike guns which are impossible to find.  Before you get concerned about the health and safety of our avian friends, or the delicately balanced eco-system, consider the sanity of your friends, the Stephensons.

Case #1:  The Infestation. We wish we could identify this first species of bird, 500 of which call the tree in our yard home. Every day, around 5:55 – 6:15 these birds “come home from work” as Matt puts it.  They fly in from every direction.  At first, you only notice that there are a heck of a lot of birds outside, but as the evening wears on and more birds arrive home from work, it begins to sound like a horror movie.  At this point, you no longer hear the individual chirps, but a mass of white noise gone very, very wrong.  The volume is astounding.  Finally, around 8:00, the birds get settled onto their little branch and quiet down for the evening.  All is well until about 5:00am when the birds wake up.

Matt and I are continually amazed by the amount of chatter that goes on in that tree before they decide to leave for work.  Not particularly a morning person, I fail to understand how there is THAT much to say at 5:00 in the morning.  Gossip, braggadocio?  We’re not sure.  It goes well beyond a simple, “good morning” and “have a good day.”

Our poor gardener has the task of scraping the previous night’s remnants off the driveway each morning.  Thank goodness too because it adds up quickly.  Just one day’s worth of business is a lot of bird poop, I assure you.  That daily scraping sound has become the soundtrack of my life in Dar.  I am confident it will be intermingled with memories of Africa for years to come.

Case #2:  The Non-native Crow. No one here likes the Indian crows who have managed to displace the native African crow.  Our problem with the crow is that it has caused us to sin.  You see, I complained to the embassy that a man (or woman) has been walking by our house every day, eating corn on the cob and discarding the cob by throwing it into our yard.  The nerve!  Rutledge would love to swallow a corn cob and have another surgery.

Turns out, the culprit was the crow.  He’s the one that eats the daily corn cob and deposits it in our yard.  He has also deposited a dead rat, fish scales, chicken bones, numerous butter wrappers, and other odds and ends.  We have a lovely time chasing Rutledge around the yard, begging him not to swallow whatever object he has in his mouth.

Case #3: The Stupid Birds. The behavior of these birds is beyond explanation.  These birds do their handiwork in the morning, usually Saturday.  After the anger of being awakened wears off, I have to laugh because they are really stupid.  Again, I call on the video camera.

UPDATE:  After writing this post, but prior to publishing it, a significant and life-changing event occurred.  The birds who infest our tree, unanimously and simultaneously decided to find another home.  One evening, we noticed it was eerily quiet and that was it…they were gone.  Occasionally, when we see small flocks of them flying north past our yard, we smile and think of the lucky family who is hosting them now.

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