You may have heard of the famous book titled “To Kill A Mockingbird.” If mama were to write a book about springtime in Vegas, she would call it “When Mockingbirds Kill.” It would be a story filled with lots drama, near death experiences, and ultimate triumph!
This time of the year is hatching season for the mockingbirds in town. As new baby birds are born, their mamas can be awfully protective of their nests.
I remember the first time many years ago when a mockingbird first tried to kill me and mama. It was a fine spring evening, just before sunset. As we were admiring the streaks of color across the sky and taking in the serenity of it all, a bird swoops down out of the blue and starts flying and squawking all about my back area. Since it was around my back, I didn’t notice anything going on, and merrily kept walking.
But then I see mama using the end of my leash to swat at a bird that’s swooping over me.
The bird keeps hovering around us, not deterred by the leash at all and determined for blood.
Mama suddenly yells “Run P Run!”
Next thing mama and I are running full speed down the street. When we get to the end of the block, we see a couple staring at us like we are nuts. Mama was a little embarrassed afterwards, and pretended like nothing unusual just happened. We look back at the couple, who were passing the very place where the mockingbird tried to kill us, and nothing happened to them. No assassin bird came after them. Huh, very strange.
When we get home, we tell daddy what happened, but daddy didn’t think it was a big deal and mama suspected that daddy thought we made the whole story up. Mama and I, however, tried not to walk down that same street again.
As we moved into our new house in a new neighborhood a few years later, we had more brushes with death. Every day, we’d walk around the neighborhood loop which was about a mile long. In the middle of the loop, there’s a nice grassy area with lots of trees and a sheltered bench to sit and chat.
As I was romping on the grass, a bird swoops down and squawks over me. Mama tries to swat it away and mutters at it “Will you quit that!” But it’s no use. The bird won’t let up, and keeps attacking us.
I hear mama’s voice yell “Run P Run!” and next thing I know, we’re running full speed down the street again.
That was during springtime, and marked the beginning of several kamikaze bird attacks for us that year. We found ourselves running like the wind, away from dive bombing birds, many times. What onlookers thought when they saw us, a grown woman and her goldie running like mad down the street, who knows.
Even though mama knew that the birds were just trying to protect their babies, mama felt she also had the right to protect her own baby from being attacked. Mama hatched many ideas:
- Carrying an extra leash and whirling it around fast enough to create a circular vortex so that birds could not get close enough to us to attack
- Carrying a badminton racket on walks to swat away crazy birds
- Buying a pole with a net to catch the birds
- Walking under an umbrella to protect us from overhead attacks
The first three ideas were rejected because mama didn’t want to harm any birds. And the last one was a no go because she figured it would look very conspicuous if we walked around with an open umbrella, and it wasn’t raining.
Meanwhile, the mockingbirds became more aggressive. Instead of swooping down from a tall tree as we passed a hidden nest, they would perch ahead of time on a low lying ledge. It felt like they were just waiting for us to come along, then attack! One morning, we saw a bird fly down and land on a side ledge that we’d have to pass up ahead. The bird had a mean aura about her, and kept flipping it’s tail in the air. No doubt about it, that bird was trying to ambush us! If you’ve ever walked to school and had the neighborhood bully lurk around the corner, just to jump you for your lunch money, you’ll know the feeling of dread we felt.
Mama wasn’t letting any bully steal our lunch money, so she scooped me up in her arms, and we waited for cars to pass on the street before crossing over.
One lady who was jogging on the other side of the street, stopped in her tracks, and yelled over “Is your dog okay?”
As mama still carried me in her arms, I yelled back “I’m okay lady!”
I guess people thought it strange to see a woman carrying her 65lb golden retriever across the street, but mama and I were able to safely cross the street and foil that evil bird’s plan to kill us. We lived to fight another day! If I could make a fist with my paw, I would shake it in the air at that bird in triumph.
Mama and I kept racking our brains for ideas because every time we got attacked, which became more often, mama’s heart would go boom boom boom. We discussed many ideas together, but for one reason or another, had to reject most of them. One day she came across an idea as she was reading about how gardeners would hang strips of silver foil on trees to keep away birds and crows from eating the fruits. Finally, we stumbled upon a viable weapon!
Mama wears a white wide-brimmed hat whenever we go walking, so she wrapped a big strip of silver metallic ribbon across the brim and let long strands of it hang off the back for extra measure. The moment of truth came when we walked across the first spot in our path where many past attacks have taken place.
Armed with our silver be-ribonned hat, I yelled “Now, mama now!”
Mama shook her head vigorously from side to side so the sun would reflect off the silver and repel the birds. We waited to see if it worked. There was no attack. We didn’t have to run full speed down the street. It worked, and victory was ours! Since mama started wearing her silver ribbonned hat, we haven’t been attacked once.
Mama and I walked happily ever after… The End.
P’s life lesson: In times of war, look for peace. There is often a peaceful solution if you have the patience and willingness to find it. Also, when a bird dive bombs you and you are without your own silver be-ribboned hat, don’t be too embarrassed to run like the wind!