Tuesday, December 9, 2008

High Flying Hazards

Over the past few days, my husband and I have begun stringing Christmas lights on our house -- this seemingly quaint holiday tradition is actually an enduring test of nerves involving a 28-foot aluminum extension ladder, more than 40 strands of multi-colored twinkle lights, countless binder clips and gutter hooks, frozen fingers, precarious balance, and more than one thought about the effectiveness of renting a cherry picker or scissor lift. This year, however, has brought a new hazard to the holiday season: anxiously agitated house finches and sparrows.

The west side of the house is perhaps the most difficult on which to string lights. The steeply angled roof reaches its utmost highest point there, right above a patch of particularly rocky and uneven ground that is less than forgiving to the intrusions of a fully-extended ladder. Furthermore, that western patch of scrub ground -- just a few feet between the house and the fence, guaranteeing the steepest ladder angle possible -- is also home to the birds' new favorite habitat, the brush pile.

Whether they were curious or furious is unclear, but it is a whole new challenge stringing delicate lights with dozens of small birds insistently flocking around your head, shoulders, and legs as they flit to and from their shelter. They whiz back and forth, chittering in a most uncivilized fashion, berating you for disturbing their very haphazard pile. Where's the holiday spirit, the appreciation, the good will toward man or bird? And I'd even refilled the feeders with tantalizing, rich black oil sunflower seeds.

Those birds have no holiday spirit. Yet most of my holiday list is filled with birding supplies -- feeders, treats, nesting material, and other objects I can't wait to share. Ah, well, at least they're keeping us company. Kind of like the relatives you see every holiday season whom you can't tell whether to hate or love, but you enjoy seeing them anyway. And I suppose that's the real holiday spirit -- tolerance.

Now, if they could only help put up the lights...

My holiday wish list has lots of birding items on it -- does yours? Share in the December poll!

1 comment:

Morty said...

Friday is my day to peruse blog sites from other parts of the country that are essentially the polar opposite of my little piece of paradise. Not many species like what I've seen here are abundant amongst the skyscrapers. Congrats on your about.com appointment. I'll be sure to stop in.

New York, NY