Go on Bird, Make My Day

Remember that cute little bird that visited us regularly at breakfast?  The one that was so entertaining we took its photo and let it perch on the edge of the table, posing?  Well, it turns out, as many of you may be unsurprised to learn, we made a stick for our own backs with our lackadaisical approach to wildlife discipline.

Gradually, bit by bit, the bird became relentless in its determination to score as many tidbits, whether by invitation or not, as it could.  It began by appearing every time we went onto the balcony for a meal or a drink, then it started flying inside into the living room.  On its first sorties inside, it flew out immediately when we shooed it away or clapped our hands loudly.

Then it started flying through the lounge into the kitchen area and had to be chased before it would fly back out of the open door.  I started closing the door so that it was barely open, just enough for a bit of a breeze, but then the bird snuck in through a side opening.  Later we discovered that a plantain, stored in the vegetable tray in the far corner of the kitchen had a sizeable hole pecked into.  Can it be that little birds can smell plantain from 25 yards away?

As a basic principle, I’m not that fond of flying things inside the house, but then when we started to notice that it was leaving its mark on the floor and the furniture, necessitating the washing of chair covers, my dislike of it grew.

The bird’s next strategy was to hop through the open door and try to make it through beneath the radar; clapping and shouting didn’t deter it.  I had to stand up and chase it, and then it would retreat only as far as just outside the door, perched on the back of the chair on the balcony, watching me through the window.

I felt I had made my position on birds inside perfectly clear to it, but it seemed not to be able to resist.

An escalation in defence strategy was required.

In the ‘pre-toddler to pre-teen’ shop I asked if they sold water pistols.

‘We have everything for the beach,’ the lady said.  ‘How old is the boy?’

‘Er, seven,’ I said, conjuring out of no-where an image of the child waiting impatiently on the beach for something to play with.

‘He’ll want something good and strong then,’ the lady said, producing a plastic ray gun thing about two feet long, in pink and orange.

‘Maybe something a bit smaller?’ I asked.

‘Well there’s this one, but it’s not so resilient,’ the lady said.

‘Yes, but I think he’ll get bored with it quite quickly anyway,’ I replied, giving the poor imagined child a rather ungrateful, short attention span.

We immediately began on an intensive aversion therapy programme with the bird – every time it appeared we shot a little water at it (although not robust, the inferior pistol has a very satisfactory range), and while I’m reluctant to tempt fate, it seems to have worked a treat.  Two intense sessions yesterday afternoon and this morning appear to have retrained it, to avoid us.

I should stress I’ve never actually managed to hit it with the water…….but that’s B$8 of anyone’s money well spent.

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