Winging it

The chirping of the birds in springtime signals that a warble of tree guests have settled in the large black English walnut tree in our side yard. They are there to nest and raise their young, starting anew a cycle that I have witnessed and enjoyed for the last 35 years on B Street.

You might ask how I know exactly where the feathers meet the hearth and the answer is really quite simple. The winged ones, as they travel the shortest routes between worms and snapping hatchling beaks, leave a bombing pattern of white droppings that are more accurate than any Global Positioning System-guided weapons, for loosed warheads hit my car without fail. If our military had access to such accuracy, we would need only a biplane and 10-pound bombs to dominate any battlefield. Make those a dozen biplanes, as we seem to have a penchant for conflicts, whether it is about our neighbors to the south or abundant oil fields in the Middle East.

I have tried nearly everything to assuage the nurturing concerns in the arboreal wonderment that is this most majestic tree. I eschew loud noises, water down the neighborhood cats that think snacks lurk on high, maintain several birdbaths in safe locations and leave the occasional bird treat. All I ask for is a single day without my car feeling, well, pooped.

Digging deep into my bag of tricks, I ran a few errands around town and reconvened at my house to my task of dissuading these descendants of mighty dinosaurs from making life hard on the guy who helps guard their nests.

We all know that birds can see wavelengths of light that elude us. One thought was to put an ultraviolet hawk decal on the top of the car to interrupt the daily dive-bombing. The setup drew more bird hits than a new convertible parked on an ocean fishing pier, so it was back to the drawing board.

Another idea was to project an image of my car to a location were it was not. If it got hit repeatedly it might indicate that I was on to something. Instead, the birds focused on the projector itself, which eventually suffered a complete whiteout.

I even tried little automatic bursts of prerecorded owl screeches whenever a bird began a bombing run, but soon quit the idea after every bird in the neighborhood diverted to my car in some kind of avian competition. As far as I was able to observe the first bird out of bombs got three free worms and a beak full of birdseed. It was all great fun, at least for the birds.

I repaired to the porch and, under the safety of cover, came up with an idea as old as graveyards, guaranteed to draw the focus away from my now white car. I whistled for my dog, Spooky, and sprinted to my car, careful to change speed and direction in a blink to avoid being tagged with the best from above. While the engine warmed up, I emptied a full tank of window-washing fluid to gain visual perspicuity, then zoomed on an errand certain to deflect the ongoing aerial attacks.

I arrived home an hour later and unloaded my prize: a life-sized gray plastic foam statue of a former president, complete with a stable base. I tossed a bag of birdseed 10 yards to one side and set the reproduction such that should a bird wish to visit it, my car would be out of the flight path.

We all know that statues draw the ire and fire of birds without fail and within minutes the sculpture appeared engulfed in a hale storm as my feathered friends coated it with their joy and affection.

It was then that my wife, Annette, arrived home and noticed the blur of birds circling my most recent acquisition. She crooked her head, then asked: "How come that statue doesn't have a head?"

I thought for a moment, then shrugged.

"I borrowed it from a friend at the parks department. They got a dozen of those lying around in case someone steals Lincoln's body."

(Lance was last seen chipping away at a slab of granite to allow him to return the genuine Styrofoam he borrowed for the diversion. You may sculpt your way to him at He will carve some time out for you.)

Share This Story