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The Battle of the Birds

February 23, 2012

August, 2005

First, a little history.   I have waged a running battle for two years with birds, sparrows and starlings mostly, that seem attracted to my attic.  Particularly in the spring, they would make a racket over my office.  I knew where they were getting in because I’d see them fly out of the vent on the side of the house.  Plus, I would occasionally see pieces of dead grass, leaves, and string dangling from the vent.  I tried sealing the opening with wire mesh, but a day or two later, a hole would appear – about the size of a bird’s head.  I reinforced the mesh with nails; they managed to work their way through another hole.  This went on, back and forth, for the better part of the summer until, I suppose, we tired of our little game as fall drew to a close.

This spring, the offensive began anew.  One morning, I heard a bird fluttering around the attic.  Once and for all, I was going to rid myself of these pests disguised in cute packages – driving the creatures from my loft and sealing it shut from the inside.  I climbed into the attic and there he was – perched on a beam, silhouetted against the light at the far end of the garage.  I yelled, waved my arms, and threw sticks toward the beast.  Nothing.  Deciding I had to get up close and personal with the creature, I descended for a flashlight so I could see to venture into the dark abyss that is the far end of the attic.  Upon my return, the bird was gone!  Undaunted, I started to make my way to the point I had last seen him.  I had barely taken a step when I heard a loud fluttering behind me and, before I could turn around, felt a thud on my head.  I was being dive-bombed by a bird – and in my own attic, no less!

No longer caring whether he left the attic or was entombed therein, I sealed the vent from the outside with a large piece of cardboard (yes, it looked ugly).

Fast forward to last week…..

The cable guy comes to improve the signal on my high-speed internet connection.  He decides the best solution is to string a new cable through the attic.  Fine by me.  (You just think you know where this is headed……)

He comes down from his initial foray into the attic, casts a quizzical look my way and says, “What you got livin’ in your attic there?”

“What do you mean?”, I replied innocently.

“There’s a nest up there.”

“Oh, that.  Yeah, I’ve had a few problems with birds getting in my attic……”

The man raises one eyebrow and asks, curiously, “Really?  How big a bird?”

Now, MY curiosity is peaking, “Whaddya mean?”

Holding his hand waist-high, he said, “Sir, there is a nest up there that is this high.  And, it at least this wide!”, stretching arms out until his hands were four feet apart.  “I was freaking out!   I don’t know what’s in there, but I don’t mind tellin’ you that I had my nail gun drawn and if somethin’ had moved, I was going to shoot it!”

With that, he finished the job as quickly as any three guys put together could have and disappeared in his van.

I was left alone to ponder this surprising turn of events.  Was there really a nest that big?  If so, what could be in it?  Was it dangerous?  Should I leave it be?  I decided to sleep on it – not the nest, but the matter at hand.

Denyce and I talked it over and decided I should at least investigate the attic the next day.  (We even discussed whether perhaps I should, as the Old Testament temple priests did, tie a rope around my ankle so that I could be pulled out of danger should the need arise.)

The following day, mustering all the will power I could, I got dressed – shoes, jeans, a long sleeve shirt, gloves, hat – to see this phenomenon.  By the way I was dressed, one would have thought it was 25 degrees, not the middle of a scorching Oklahoma August day.

Borrowing a neighbor’s drop light and bending at the waist to avoid the beams, I made my way across the board walkway to the far end of the attic – trying to feel as bold as Indiana Jones.  The walkway ran out, leaving me to dance carefully across the beams before I could see around the corner.  In the pitch blackness, I reminded myself the cable guy had survived at least two trips up here and seemed none the worse for wear.  Yeah, but he had a nail gun…..

Unfortunately for this story, this is where the drama ends…almost.  There were no animals in the attic that day, but the cable guy wasn’t exaggerating.

Against the front wall of the attic was a pile of pine needles, grass, leaves, and string that was at least three feet high and five feet across!  At the top of this volcano-sized mount, I found a little indentation the size of man’s palm.  Some songbird must have been able to tell his neighbors that he had the biggest nest in the county:

I suspect this project had been in progress for many years, perhaps even decades.  It took me 90 minutes and eight 40-gallon trash bags to haul that nest out of the attic!

The dangerous part?   Turned out it was the heat…… it was so hot in that attic that I started feeling lightheaded after filling only two bags.  The rope idea was sounding better and better.  By comparison, the garage felt air-conditioned. I tried to drink some Gatorade but my hand cramped into a claw while trying to unscrew the lid.  I have run marathons after which I did not feel that poorly.  It took me an hour of sitting in air-conditioning, under a fan, drinking two quarts of Gatorade, before I could go back to work.

There may be many sermon illustrations in this tale, but I was too traumatized to figure them out.

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