The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bird Whispering

We returned late this evening from a long day in Washington, DC with my daughter, her friend, and the exchange student, to find the dogs in a high state of pent-up agitation from their lengthy confinement. There was blue ink on the paws and nose of one of them, traceable to a mangled pen and further ink stains on the carpet of the downstairs bedroom. I hope that stuff I saw at Home Depot the other day works.

There was also a bird in my daughter's bedroom. My daughter and her friend went up stairs, and immediately came screaming down again. My fears of Something Gross were allayed when the cause of her alarm was revealed. She doesn't like birds at all - hence the over-reaction.

The exchange student, who displays an admirable and gratifying animal-craziness (she even tried to pet the DC squirrels today) ran up into my daughter's room, and I heard her say, "Cool!"

I grabbed a towel, which usually works really well for subduing and removing panicky birds, and went in to the room to catch the bird, which turned out to be a starling. We don't know how they get in the house. But they do.

I made several attempts to put the towel over the bird, but it kept evading me, and it began panting. So I decided maybe I could just treat it like a horse.

It was perched at the back of the bookshelf. I reached a finger up towards it, saw the bird tense, and removed my finger. I kept talking in a high voice, as I think birds are quite attuned to the sound of voices.

I kept this up - advancing, and retreating at the first sign of anxiety, and I kept up the baby talk. The bird moved position maybe once or twice, but it wasn't long before it was letting me pet it and scratch its chest. At first it drew the line at me touching the top of its head, but then I was able to stroke its head and beak and back. Finally it let me pick it up without struggling.

I called to my husband to immobilize the dogs, and to the exchange student to come and see the bird. We took it outside onto the kitchen steps, and I opened my hands. It sat quietly for a little while before flying away.

I didn't take any pictures, as I didn't think the bird would like that much. But here is one of its relatives.


  1. How interesting! I've actually had a swallow land on my hand before in my backyard at night--I turned on the porch light (they were nesting out there) so I could bring something in, and the swallow started flying around. I lifted up my hand instinctively for her to perch on it, and she immediately landed on it and looked at me for a few moments before flying back to her nest. One of the strangest things that has ever happened to me.

  2. What a strange and wonderful thing! The swallow must have picked up your clear intention to provide a perch. I feel the same about this starling experience - like it was something very much outside of my normal reality.