Now in the middle of everything, a massive flock of birds has shown up out of nowhere and it seems to be making people in the neighborhood skittish. We’re all probably reading too much news these days, streaming too many sci-fi television shows and generally spending too much time in front of backlit screens to go outside and realize things still happen in nature.
I didn’t have any choice but to start paying attention when a few weeks ago, I heard a strange banging on a window in front of the house. I opened the door to see a robin relentlessly trying to get through the window. I didn’t think much of it, until the following week, when two more birds ran into windows. One of them was stunned for a couple hours. It was underneath a patio chair trying to turn itself right side up, and appeared to be dying a slow death. I closed the curtains, since the cat was going nuts and the kids were going nuts, and I wasn’t sure what to do about it. A while later, one of my kids started yelling, “It’s a miracle! It’s a miracle!” when all of a sudden it turned right side up and flew away.
It was around that time, I realized something was happening. Thousands and thousands of birds—starlings and robins—have descended on our neighborhood and are roosting in trees, hanging on telephone poles, crapping on cars, and flying in massive flocks twice a day around the neighborhood, not showing any sign of leaving.
We have gone here in California from being in the midst of an historic drought, to getting lots and lots of rain. I’m not a science whiz, but I’m guessing the birds’ patterns have been disrupted somehow because of the rain. When they fly in a burst across the sky, there are so many, it blocks out the sunset, it makes a noise like a train going by, and it causes a number of them to fly into windows. Others are showing up dead along the street.
Aside from the noise, the droppings and the odd sight, the neighbors seems to be learning what Alfred Hitchcock knew a long time ago: massive amounts of birds showing up for no apparent reason and dropping dead out of the sky makes people paranoid. Some of the neighbors love it and come outside in the evening and morning to watch it, some are upset at the mess and some have begun attributing the birds’ arrival to various conspiracy theories.
I chose to use it as an excuse to introduce my kids to the movie The Birds. Their reaction was more amused than scared. They rated the child acting in the movie a solid D+, and they were especially amused by the scene in the schoolhouse where the children sing a horrible song over and over and over and over, until the teacher stages a fake fire drill. Regardless, we followed it up with To Catch a Thief the next weekend. I’m thankful for our real-life birds for introducing my kids to the thrill of Hitchcock movies. Now I wish the birds would move along.