THAT familiar, irritating sound – not unlike fingernails across a blackboard – pierces the waves of emerging consciousness – again!
It’s been every morning for more than a week now. The noise persists for differing lengths of times; always getting louder and louder until it stops with a muffled thump.
I lie quietly, hoping he will get up and deal with it. No movement from the other side of the bed. Perhaps it hasn’t yet pierced his waves of emerging consciousness. How could it not?! I will say at the outset, though, that we share this task fairly equitably, depending on how well each has slept that night.
But my ageing reflexes are no match for a freaked-out starling – they’re always starlings. And now the chase is on. Around the room; back and forth from the bay window to the bifold door, missing the open door, onto the window sill, laying waste to photo frames and knick-knacks (hence the removal of breakables), leaving evidence of its terror in whitish blobs along the way.
There are three possible outcomes to this exercise. The first and least likely is that, more by good luck than good navigation, the bird flies through the open door. The second is when it falls at the umpteenth time of attempting to fly through double glazing, I pick it up, either dazed or out cold and place it gently on the grass outside. Finally, and most likely, is that my improving skills as a matador manage to flick the tea towel over the bird while it pauses for breath. I can feel its little heart beating to jump out of its chest and, anxious to liberate it before it literally dies of fright, I open the tea towel, extricate its claws from the fabric and throw it gently upwards. It takes off with a little squawk and shoots off into the wild blue yonder. We like to think the squawk is a thank you. My Other Half was very put out recently when one he liberated failed to issue a thank you squawk as it flew off.
Now it’s back to survey the damage. Restore ornaments (early on it was mend the breakables), clean up the starling’s hard (hopefully) rubbish, sweep up the ash that has spilled out from the heater, return various doors to their original positions.
Why only starlings, among the magpies, ravens, mynahs, wattle birds, butcher birds and others?
Why only in the morning?
Why do they sit on the edge of our flue, with barely any room between the rim of the flue and the conical cap?
Why do they lean over the flue so far that they fall in and must then scrabble madly – and vainly – to save themselves?
Finally, why has the frequency of these visits increased all of a sudden? Is the altered reality of The Virus reverberating into the animal world? Just asking.
A solution is obvious but risky: netting over the flue. Our roof has a 27 degree angle. No one in this household will be allowed to risk their neck for a starling.