How it Started, How it’s Going: Birdbath Edition

I excitedly decided to get a birdbath one day in late April. Filled it with pebbles & fresh water.

“I sure hope the birds find it and use it,” I said, picturing dainty songbirds perched all ’round the edges. I was a little worried they wouldn’t come.

Right, well. It’s now a few short weeks later, in May, and at least one bird has found it. Here is the bird bath as of today:

Let’s have a close-up on that mess:

This is all from one crow, who’s been finding food items around the neighborhood, then bringing them to “wash” in his handy new bird bathtub.

This post will be updated, just as soon as I figure out what to do about this problem. Of course, for the crow, the birdbath apparently SOLVED a problem.

Oh, and yes, a couple of those images are from inside through the window, which also looks pretty “dirty.” Actually, it just has soap swirled on it. This is because an emergency ad hoc solution for birds crashing into your window is to rub a bar of soap around on the outside, something I did just before getting the bird bath. The soap swirls allow birds to actually see the glass. Yeah, I had that bird problem too, with smaller birds, even hummingbirds, thumping into the glass and falling to the ground. Since swirling the soap, there’ve been no more knocked-out birds. It worked so well I just kept the soap there. Knocked-out birds is a lot worse in my book than the crow food-washing gunk problem.

Incidentally, the word ‘gunk’ comes from the brand name of a 1940s cleaning solvent, according to Merriam-Webster. But I probably won’t be using that in the birdbath. I’ll just keep adding fresh water for now. (Like some kind of zookeeper.)

By the way, the several birds that flew into my window earlier this spring, pre-soap, were only temporarily—not permanently—knocked out. I felt so bad when I realized that was happening, but happily, I watched them each recover. I kept an eye out to make sure the neighborhood cats didn’t slink by. To my amazement, the birds were able to fly away after about an hour of on-the-ground recovery. And now, the new soaped-up “dirty” looking glass has proven to be safer bird infrastructure. Phew.

Whenever I do something for the birds, in the back of my mind are those lines in the Bible. In a couple places it says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father [or whoever you believe in, as my high school chemistry teacher, Mr. Jarl, used to say] feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Hmm. Such interesting rhetoric there.

I always thought what they were getting at is, “don’t worry, be happy,” “no woman, no cry;” that type of thing. But upon observing birds more closely, I think they do experience a sort of worry. They squawk when there’s a perceived predator, and they haul an awful lot of crap into the birdbath out of some kind of concern, instinctual or otherwise. And they even sow. Maybe it doesn’t count as worry, i.e., “we better plant more food or we’ll starve,” if it’s accidental or implicit with an activity like eating and digestion. Still. Evolved birds did in fact sow the ground via seeds dropped from their beaks or intestines; these are the ones that made it.

And then there’s the whole question of who’s more valuable. There’s something about that comparison that I’ve always doubted. Maybe I was a bird in a past life. Or am destined to be one.

I guess what I worry is, that by trying so hard to block worry, maybe there’s some part of the self that gets clogged up. Maybe worry is constipated fear. And when there’s no obvious source for a feeling of fear—like a freaking GRIZZLY bear in your face—the fear has no way of being relieved, at least not in a very satisfying way. Too close to the edge of a cliff and feeling fear? Back up and you feel better. But when you worry the stock market might drop because of some political thing, what exactly is the fear? It’s all based on something intangible, artificial, abstract.

Maybe that’s worth exploring, not because fear & worry should be indulged in, but because if what’s causing the worry can be concretely seen and understood, there’s less likelihood of knocking oneself out on it, falling down it, or being eaten by it. I’m very good at making up stuff for myself to worry about. That may be a trait of writers.

What does all this have to do with a birdbath? At least for now, I’m not going to worry about answering that.

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