Early bird: It's not a f-ing sign


It sounded like a wet softball hitting my bedroom window.

Boom, boom.

I looked at the clock. 7:14. a.m. Dawn—a time of the day I only see under duress. I'm not used to seeing dawn, except occasionally right before I go to bed. I can only be called a "morning person" if that means someone who likes to sleep through it.

I woke enough to think, "It's just a bird, flying into the window." They stun themselves, lie on the ground, and ask themselves, "Who am I? Where am I? What am I?" Then they regain their memory and fly away home.

But every few seconds it repeated—Boom. Boom boom! I reluctantly got up and whipped back the curtains to see who was doing this without bothering to put something on or peek through the curtains like a normal awake person. There was nothing out there. No person. No animal. I closed the curtain and went back to bed.

Boom, boom. Boom. My eyes snapped open, well, snapped is an exaggeration as they felt kind of grainy and sticky. But I was now awake enough to quietly peek through the curtain to see a little bird hurling itself at the window. Over and over again. Like it thought it could get through. What, was my window suddenly track 9 and ¾?

I got back in bed and closed my eyes. I figured the bird would realize it couldn't get through after bouncing off it 100 times. But no, it just kept trying, which on one hand way was a wonderful display of optimism and on the other could have been a sign it needed psychiatric help.

I tried to wave it away. I scary made faces. I knocked on the glass which stopped it for a short time until my knocking only seemed to steel its resolve that there was something on the other side of the glass it had to get to.

Maybe it was just seeing its reflection at dawn and thought there was another bird in its territory. If it was a narcissistic gay bird, it could have thought, "That's the most little brown gorgeous bird I've ever seen, I must meet it!" Maybe it was coming home to where it was hatched but its internal GPS was off. Whatever it was, my wife could sleep right through it.

I had to appreciate its persistence—it had more than I did. I went downstairs to finish sleeping on the sofa. When I came back upstairs later, it was gone.

I figured it was over. Until the next dawn when, at precisely 7:14 am, the bird was back. In the same exact spot. Still flinging itself at the window in hopes of getting in to meet that elusive early bird.

Once again I was awake well before the more civilized crack of noon. Now, even though I was exhausted, I knew I was in for trouble. I tried to figure out a way to stop the kamikaze bird of dawn.

I thought I'd make it easier for the bird to see itself. I took a few long bamboo poles and created a bridge from the retaining wall to the window. I set another pole vertically so it could walk across the bridge and hop up the bamboo and then gaze at itself without all that noisy crashing into the window business. The bird appeared, checked out the new construction, walked calmly across the bamboo, then delicately up to the window—just as I had intended.

The next morning, at dawn—Boom. Boom boom. I opened the curtains and squinted as it casually walked across the bamboo, trying to act nonchalant. Then it hopped up the vertical bamboo, again, acting as if it didn't care. Then it threw itself into the glass, over and over and over again.

Now I was starting to feel like Donald Duck with some pesky critter annoying my piece and quiet. Donald's foes are usually the chipmunks, but we learned long ago just to feed our chipmunks and they'd be quiet until they knew we were awake (they stand in the back and look through the bathroom window until they see us moving).

I didn't want to end up like Donald, destroying my house in a misguided effort to keep out a pest, so it was back to the drawing board. I found a package of Christmas tree tinsel, attached thousands of strands to a long piece of packing tape, and then used thumbtacks to hang it from the top of the window. It hung down like with a kind of Polynesian grass hut look on the inside (on the outside it had more of a "Polynesian disco" look).

Next morning—I could hear the occasional rustling of Mylar but no fowl play. Aha—the human brain triumphs! Morning after that—Boom! The bird had spent all day pulling off the pieces of tinsel, one by one. I was ready to move downstairs or buy a cat.

At this point Donald Duck would have boarded up the window, so I bought a bamboo blind and installed it on the outside. It was almost too heavy for me to hold up, so I pretty was sure it'd be too heavy for a two ounce bird to pull down.

I've been right (so far). Of course, I can no longer see out the window at my bamboo grove, but that's a small price to pay, and someday I'll be able to raise the blind—maybe if the bird flies south for the winter... oh, it is winter... well, maybe if I get a cat.

The bird has stopped booming. Now it just sits outside and chirps. Loudly. So I can't shake the feeling the universe is trying to tell send me a message. But frankly, I just don't want to hear it—at least not until after noon.


Daniel Will-Harris

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No animal was harmed in the making of this story, unless you count me.

And the message? My body is clearly on another time zone! Hawaii, I think.



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