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10/18/2002: Never mind what Hitchcock said

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Being gone for two weeks, with someone else picking up the bill, meant that when we came home we had to make up the difference by going shopping. Okay, so that wasn't really the reason; it was more that we happened to be at the hardware store to get stuff to kill ants (because yes it's that time of year again), and while we were there, there was a fat, gray, warty clay toad that had to come home with us to sit amid the flowers on the front yard berm, and then we both remembered that we really wanted to get a bird feeder. So we did.

It's been up for many days now, standing outside full of birdseed. But to our dismay, not a single bird has shown the slightest bit of interest. There are birds around, we can hear them chirping their little hearts out in neighboring trees, but they won't come to our bird feeder. I'm not sure if we put it too close to the house, or if they see the cats through the windows and don't want to approach or what, but it's been a bit disappointing. Almost a whole week it's been out there, and nary a bird.

I shouldn't be all that surprised, I suppose. After all, it's me we're talking about here, and somehow the birds must sense that. You see, for some odd reason, birds don't like me, and I have never quite figured out why.

Back when I was in high school I decided that I was going to be a veterinarian. To this end, I found jobs that would let me be in contact with animals. This included volunteering at a veterinary office, and also working at a local pet store.

The pet store was your typical mom-and-pop type situation. Bear in mind this was long before I ever got involved in the SPCA and so still had no clue about what they were and weren't doing right. All I knew was that it was a job and I got paid and I figured it would look good on the college application.

I was usually in charge of the puppy room, which involved doing a lot of puppy bathing, and cleaning of puppy poop and letting them run around on the floor and untie my shoes for me. I also learned how to administer vaccines for both puppies and kittens there (it's an easy skill to learn). I've never been a huge fan of dogs (it's not that I dislike them; I just prefer cats), but there was always something kind of amusing about having an entire bathtub of soggy puppies leaping around and playing with the spray hose.

In that same pet store there was a rather large scarlet macaw. They kept him in the puppy room, usually because that room wasn't as accessible to the public, and the macaw had lived with someone at one point in his life who taught him a vocabulary that could make a sailor blush. He was an ornery bird and, being a bird, he took an immediate dislike to me the moment he laid eyes on me. When I passed his perch, I had to do so facing him, because if I took my eyes off him he would lunge at me in the hopes of removing a chunk of my skin (and he succeeded once or twice, too). It eventually became a feud between him and I. I discovered that he couldn't stand having his tail feathers touched. After the second time he chomped me, I learned how to reach in and just tap his tail lightly, while avoiding that sharp beak. From then on it was war, and we both knew the rules. If I could touch his tail, I would. If he could bite me, he would. It almost became a game, in some strange and avian sort of way. I suppose, looking back on it, that I didn't help things any by antagonizing him, but the way I figured it, that macaw started it, and I was getting awfully tired of being bit. The main thing here was that the macaw was the start of it all - the first exposure I had to a bird and the first time I learned that birds just don't like me.

There was also a room where all the birds and the rodents lived, and occasionally I would have to go in there to feed them. It was here that I discovered that I am apparently evil in the eyes of birds. I would go in the room and all the little finches and parakeets and whatever-else-they-were would immediately react by rushing to their seed cups and flinging seeds in my general direction. I could never figure out why I was the one getting targeted, since they wouldn't do this to anyone else people who walked in that room. It wasn't like I had ever done anything to any of them - I just went in and filled their food cups. But there it was. They hated me.

So….we'll see, I guess. Maybe we just need to move the bird feeder to another location. Maybe we need to put up little bird-sized billboards in the neighbors' trees because they just haven't figured out that there's a new source of free chow in the area. Or maybe it's just that they know that it's my house, and they're just carrying on the feud.

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