Being an unreconstituted wimp, I have never read Daphne du Maurier’s story ‘The Birds’ nor watched the Hitchcock film because they are renowned for being scary and I certainly don’t require any external help in frightening myself rigid in any remotely uncanny situation. However, I am aware of the premise, and at the moment I am feeling anxious because what if it is in fact starting, and starting here, in this unexceptional part of Belgium?
First, it was the blackbird. I believe I have mentioned the cheeky blackbird before. He and his wife now boldly help themselves to cat food from almost literally under the noses of Mister Puss and Clara. I worry about this. Will cat food turn them into monster birds, who will grow beyond what nature intended and start carrying off children? The local primary school is all too close by. At least they seem to eat the food themselves and not take it to their babies.
When not thieving, Mr Blackbird is as good as biting the paw that feeds him by picking on Clara. No sooner does she step outside than he starts shouting at her and dive-bombing her. Ostensibly, this is because Mr Blackbird is a father and is doing his duty to protect his darlings.
(The baby blackbirds in their nest in the yew hedge, taken last week. I had to climb a ladder to take this picture. K, who peered into the nest before me, says that the baby birds smiled and waved at him but as you see they had fallen asleep when me and my camera arrived.)
However, Clara is usually nowhere near the nest when he starts up. So I think that Mr Blackbird is enjoying himself. A Napoleon complex perhaps? At first poor Clara hid under chairs or bushes to escape him, but now she frequently joins in the spirit of the thing, creeping and leaping and trying to catch him. Mr Blackbird had better be careful because his antics have improved Clara’s stalking skills no end and she nearly had him yesterday.
Oddly, Mr Blackbird completely ignores Mister Puss, who does actually pose a real threat to any baby bird being a dastardly slayer of all things furred and feathered.
Meanwhile, in the chicken run...
This morning, poor little Fluffy was limping, so I caught her to investigate. And Night Fluffy attacked me! Although I fended him off quite easily with my clog, using a technique developed when Mister Puss gets spring in his veins and pretends to be a tiger among the hostas – I don’t hit him! I just use the clog as a shield – this was alarming and I am not sure that it bodes well for the future.
Night Fluffy is also responsible for Flower’s decline in looks. Now that Night Fluffy has entered into man’s estate, as it were, he has a particular fondness for Flower and likes to lavish her with his love rather too enthusiastically. So enthusiastically that he's pulling the feathers out from her back. Apparently this is not unusual, and I am assured that a chicken saddle is the solution to this problem. I have purchased one, and it arrived this morning. With trepidation (and clogs), I entered the run to seize Flower and fit her with the saddle.
Fortunately, Flower is a trusting soul and rushed up to me, so I scooped her up and was out again before Night Fluffy had taken in what was happening. He was very cross though, and flew up onto the gate and crowed. It struck me, as I wrestled with the chicken saddle and the unlucky Flower, that cocks crowing are really not so very different from lions roaring. I managed to get the saddle on, and took Flower back. Here she is, saddled up and displeased. I think I need to adjust it a bit, it looks rather loose. I’m having lunch first though.
In short, dear readers, the birds are revolting. Find a secure cellar, stock up with a few years’ worth of gin and books, and prepare to wait it out. In fact, let’s play a game. What reading matter would you take into a secure cellar in the event of birds going bad?
Note for chicken enthusiasts: the saddle I bought was from here. The lady in the video makes it look so easy...