Sunday, May 09, 2010

Something fowl in the air

I like being hissed at and physically threatened as much as the next guy, but I think I might start carrying a riot shield to work anyway.

It would have been handy to have one last week, when I walked across the parking lot to say hello to a co-worker. The lone goose standing between us eyed me with a little too much interest, so I gave it a nice wide berth as I walked around. Not content with the deference I’d conferred, the goose lowered its head, opened its surprisingly large, pink and scary mouth, hissed and charged at me.

At work, most people try to at least maintain some semblance of decorum, but it’s really difficult to flee from an attacking animal with any degree of dignity. The goose just missed nipping my heels as I high-stepped around it.

“Nice dodge,” my colleague said, laughing, after I’d gotten a safe distance away from my new fine feathered enemy.

Worst-case scenario

We stood outside chatting for a moment as the goose patrolled the parking lot, issuing the occasional warning honk. After a minute, a man carrying a duffel bag strolled towards the building, a solid forty feet from the goose, which would have seemed like plenty of buffer zone to any reasonable creature, but the goose just used that space as extra runway.

For a blissful moment, the man remained ignorant of the downy missile headed his way. Once he noticed the honking harbinger of hurt whizzing across the parking lot, the man started to run, then realized he had no chance of outrunning his predator, which was now flying in a beam pointed right at his chest.

At the moment just before impact, the man lifted his duffel bag, which the goose rammed at full speed. Its momentum gone, the goose flopped to the ground and remained disoriented just long enough for its prey to escape indoors.

If there’s one thing I learned from that encounter, it’s that when it comes to protecting yourself from flying attackers, what’s good for the goose is an overstuffed duffle bag.

This attack followed a disturbing pattern of recent avian mischief. Last week, a wren flew into our house when I opened the door to take the dog for a stroll. The longtime reader(s) of this column might remember that this exact same scenario played out about a year ago, when the bird living in the wreath on our front door decided to invade our home. We eventually captured that bird in a Honey Nut Cheerios box and released into the yard with an irresistible touch of golden honey.

“Did you move the wreath after that?” a smart person would ask.

“Hey, Iron Man 2 is coming out!” I’d reply.

This time, the bird was not to be cajoled into any manner of breakfast food packaging, probably because it was the same bird from last year. As it fluttered about the house, my wife Kara and I whiffed through the air ineffectually with various cardboard boxes. We needed a net, pronto.

It might be a little grand to say that I sprung into action at that point, but as a new father, the opportunity to spring into non-vomit-related action happens so rarely that I have to take credit when I can. After a few minutes in the garage, I emerged back into the battle zone with a perfectly functional net, crafted from a trash bag, a wire coat hanger, electrical tape and an upside-down leaf rake. A few wild swings later, the bird was in the bag. And a medium-sized chunk had been taken out of the kitchen wall by the rake end of the rake, which is of course the only part of the story Kara cares to talk about anymore.

If you’re anything like me, birds invading our home and attacking innocent passersby will probably remind you of an old Alfred Hitchcock classic. Especially that goose. What a psycho.

You can hit Mike Todd with your duffel bag at


  1. Anna does not know who Alfred Hitchcock is. :(

  2. Kara doesn't know Rerun from What's Happenin'. Same thing, pretty much.

  3. I was there for the "bird-in-the-wreath" incident. Fun time!