Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dad vs. Robin

All week long I have felt like a Sitcom Dad:

“This week on Dad’s House, Dad uses increasingly wacky techniques to battle a pesky bird.”

You see, a Robin has been pestering me all week. At least I think it’s a Robin. My ornithological knowledge mostly comes from baseball hats. I can recognize Cardinals and Blue Jays from the St. Louis and Toronto sub-species, whose natural habitats are, respectively, the National and American Leagues.

The guy on my deck looks nothing like this guy. But still, I’m pretty sure it’s a Robin. In fact, according to Wikipedia it is Turdus Migratorius, the American Robin. I didn’t make that up; Turdus comes from the Latin word for Thrush. I’ve nicknamed him Dick.

Anyway, Dick has been flying into our sliding doors and kitchen windows all week. Thump! Thump! Thump! It's mating season and Dick, whose Mensa application has not been answered, believes that his mirrored image in our windows is a rival. So each day he comes to do battle in order to win the affections of the local lasses.

I got used to the thumping after a while. What I couldn’t get used to was the, um, what’s the right word? Well, let’s just say that I think I know why the word Turdus evolved from Thrush into an English slang word for other stuff. Because Dick is dropping tons of Turdus on our deck…

Avian Countermeasures

So I began to fight back. First, I sicced my dog on him. Unfortunately, my dog is a toy poodle. He looks like a fuzzy slipper. As Dave Barry once wrote about a sand shark, he is no threat to anyone unless he can somehow get hold of, and learn how to use, a gun.

Then I left 4 whiffle balls by the sliding door. The plan was to wait for Dick’s arrival, whip open the sliding door, and fling whiffle balls at him. Dick would be so intimidated by the fusillade of plastic spheres that he’d surrender, believing the rival in the window had developed some sort of super power. Alas, Whiffle-Hurling Dads are nothing against the power of flight, and he easily evaded my attacks.

It was time for a new stratagy. My attempts to convince Dick he’d lost had failed, so I decided to convince him he’d won. First, I hung a huge canvas tarp over the length of kitchen windows, securing it to the overhanging gutter with velcro. Then I stacked chairs, boxes, ladders and other bric-a-brac in front of the sliding doors. When Dick returned there would be no reflection. He’d be convinced the rival had fled, and fly off in victory.

Bumbling Sitcom Dads

If you have watched any sitcoms in the last 25 years, you have a premonition of disaster. You see, in the early days of television Dads were wise, benevolent, slightly detached patriarchs. Think Mike Brady or Father Knows Best.

But now? From Homer Simpson to Ray Romano, Tim Taylor to Jim Belushi, television Dads are clueless wonders, whose only domestic accomplishment was persuading a wise, benevolent (and sometimes, implausibly hot) woman to marry him.

When I finished construction of the Anti-Reflection Shield, my wife came down and eyed it warily. Her arched eyebrow would have been a signal to the live television audience that catastrophe loomed. Perhaps the wind would catch the canvas, ripping my gutter off the house. Maybe Dick would return with some sort of Robin Army, and launch assaults on the house. Or maybe the episode would end with Dad reclined on his leather chair with a newspaper and a satisfied grin…only to hear Thump! Thump! Thump! on the window by his chair.

But you know what? I think it worked. Dick, flush with victory, is probably off at the Robin Singles Club right now, regaling the chicks with stories of his bravery, how he defeated the Plastic-Launching-Robin-in-the-Window. He’s a hero.

I wish him luck.

No comments: