Sunday, May 13, 2012

Nature Red in Its Abundance

I came home and slept in my childhood room and the first night I heard all the stritchy-stratchies above my head, I thought, "Got to be birds, please not rats, just birds." I opened my window that morning and dried grass fell in at the frame. Birds.

There was a nest. Not just a nest, but baby birds above my head, in the attic, and they had to go. We had to kill them.

The second night, after all this had been ascertained, I slept in the basement.

I went for a run in the mountains the day we had to take them out. I didn't want to be in the house.

And isn't that funny? I'm not a vegetarian. I know that animals die, sometimes not even out of strictest need. We're just one generation removed from the time when kittens were thrown into the river. Have we gotten squeamish? Ought we to have? I'm not too sensitive to know that there is a lot of death involved in life, but I want to be far away from it. I don't want to push out the nest myself. I don't want to see the slaughter.

Good luck on that. On my run, I saw two or three dead baby mice on the asphalt trail. Roadkill. I guess some bicyclists were going downhill really fast and hit them. Probably it happened in dusk when the little ones were scurrying about, and there are plenty of after-work bicyclists.

Nature produces a lot. A lot of baby mice, a lot of baby birds. Too many, in fact, if you read your Darwin. I always think of Darwin in the spring, when the birds are singing and there're so many flowers blooming. I think of his riverbank, in the last paragraph of the Origin of Species, which he describes as teaming with life, but in an unromantic struggle for survival and propagation.

Little babies die. We had to decapitate the baby birds when they didn't die from the fall out of the attic above my childhood bedroom. It's one of the more scarring things our family has done had ever done. But we did it.

If it helps any, they were starlings, which are wonderfully called a "bird of perdition", an invasive species that drives out songbirds native to our region.  These birds need to die. They should die. If we were a less squeamish people, we'd hold contests to kill them. But that doesn't make it easy when you see a mama bird sitting at a screen, chirping for her babies.