Monday, June 11, 2007

Something to chirp about

My wife Kara has a special connection with nature. She’s like one of those animal whisperers who get their own shows on the Discovery Channel. Just this morning, as several birds were enthusiastically chirping in the maple tree outside our window before the sun came up, I witnessed the beauty of Kara speaking directly with the natural world.

“Shut up!” she said to nature.

“Caw! Caw! Chirp chirp chirp,” nature replied.

“I can’t sleep. They never shut up. Can you sleep?” she asked me.

“Not anymore,” I said. Even if the birds perched on my forehead, pecked at my cheeks and cooked Belgian waffles with canned whipped cream on my nightstand, I could probably still sleep through it. They’d have to start a death metal band in our maple tree to wake me up. Incidentally, a really good death metal band name for them would be “Cardinal Sin.”

But Kara can’t ignore the birds because she’s so attuned to nature that she just lies there in bed interpreting birdsong. Apparently, they’re saying, “WAKE UP! WAKE UP! And wake your husband up, too.”

Several years ago, my buddy Josh gave us a bird feeder as a housewarming present, which I left in the basement until just before his next visit a year later. On that Friday, he called from the road to say: “We’re going to be there in fifteen minutes, and if that bird feeder isn’t out of the box yet, I’m taking it and cramming it up the first orifice I find.”

“Dude, I told you already. I hung it in the backyard months ago,” I replied. Then I dusted off the box from the basement, ran out to the backyard and hung that thing from a branch just in time to avert an invasive anterior birdfeederoplasty. That’s where the feeder has stayed ever since, and it’s been empty since about that Sunday evening. As it turns out, Josh didn’t get us a bird feeder at all; he accidentally got us a squirrel feeder. To turn a squirrel feeder into a bird feeder, you need booby traps and laser beams and axle grease, and I just haven’t put in the time to formulate a proper strategy for doing so, mainly because it seems like the birds out there are doing just fine without our help, especially around 4am, when they begin to gather for their conversation with my wife, the bird screamer.

My parents have successfully converted a couple squirrel feeders into bird feeders in their front yard, using techniques that they’ve perfected over the last couple of decades. There are more trap doors and obstacles around those feeders than there were in the last event of American Gladiators. Still, the squirrels never give up, trying the same unsuccessful tactics over and over again like they think they’ve been elected president.

My parents’ success at creating a happening place for cute little birdies to hang out hasn’t gone unnoticed a little higher up the food chain. As Mom ate breakfast recently, a hawk swooped down and snatched a bird off the feeder. Mom did the only thing a moderately sane person could do, which is to go out in the yard and yell at the hawk as it enjoyed its breakfast high up in a tree. As someone who has received a fair amount of discipline from Mom, the only advice I might offer is that next time she try the “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed in you” talk. That hawk would never touch another bird again, at least not until it went to college.

Anyway, be sensitive about the bird situation when you visit my folks. Mom doesn’t think it’s funny when you ask how her hawk feeders are doing.

You can push Mike Todd out of the nest online at


  1. That Josh friend of yours is always such a character....and nice too. How many of your other friends got you a housewarming gift? What did you get Josh when he moved into his first house? You're really luck to have such a funny, considerate, well hung friend like that Josh.

  2. no hawks in my yard, but my kitty enjoys a tasty goldfinch from time to time.

    My son tells me birdseed is cheaper than cat food..........

  3. Cardinal Sin.... hee.

    I'm more of a dog whispererer... or screamer... Something like, "Jesus Christ on a K-Mart crutch, can someone shut those f-ing dogs up?"


  4. sounds as bad as every time I got a cat, it ended up coyote bait.

  5. Love the picture you painted of mom vs hawk. But now I'm worried. We're to check out a house we'd like to buy. What if THAT street has barking dogs, early birds, or any number of slumber-shattering events that would require me to, like your own wife, disturb my husband when he has the audacity to sleep through it? 3 minutes ago I was staring at my toes picturing a pink and frilly room for my daughter and now I see only swooping birds and Hitchcock in a metrosexual caveman commercial. Do you always stir up this much trouble?

  6. Hate to dwell on last week, but...

    Two packages of all beef, two bun length, one jumbo, and two regular(the kind with MECHANICALLY SEPARATED TURKEY, PORK, MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN, WATER, etc. - you know, the ones for the little kids).

    I'll be needing these for this weekend. How do I figure the lowest common denominator for buns again?

  7. Hi, Internet! I just got back from vacation, so as soon as I get my asses and elbows sorted out, I'll post something better here. Thanks for being so dang cool.