Saturday, July 16, 2016

Angry Birds

I am not skilled in the art of dead bird removal.

I found this out the extremely hard way last weekend when I had to remove a dead bird from my property.

A few weekends ago, it was late at night and I took my dogs out before bedtime. Dexter and Chloe are dachshunds, where in theory they are instinctually bred to be hound dogs, skilled with the innate ability to catch badgers. In reality, of course, the only thing they are instinctually bred to catch are Beggin' Strips and where we dropped a piece of macaroni on the floor and so the art of hunting is lost on them. In fact, the only time they are even close to hunting is when someone in our neighborhood has the nerve to ride past our house on a bicycle, which apparently is the dachshund equivalent of the Norman Invasion.

Anyway, I took the dogs out and walked out on our back porch, because both of my dogs are insufferably stubborn and even though they want to go to the bathroom and they know full well we've done the exact same thing every single day for the past five years, actually walking down the steps requires a pep talk and threats of negative sanctions. And so I did the same tonight, promptly them gently to please for the love of all that is holy take four steps down the stairs and vacate your bladder it's almost midnight and we all want to go to bed.

As I do so, I hear a noise. I turn around and there is a bird.

Bird flapping around on my porch at midnight is a rare sight, indeed, and so for a moment I was flummoxed. What was going on? I quickly realized that the bird was injured in some way and wasn't able to move. Unfortunately, I wasn't sure what to do about this--he couldn't stay on my porch, since it was between myself and the door, but as I looked around I had no Injured Bird Removal Apparatus handy to take care of the immediate issue.

And then I remembered there were dogs here.

The moment I realized this was the exact moment the dogs realized there was injured prey on the field. They immediately went into Full Dachshund Alert and tried to snatch the bird. Part of me wanted to see it happen, because I knew full well if my dog caught a bird they would have no idea what to do with it, but I figured that they would at least know how to snap its neck and I didn't really want to be a part of that particular CSI episode.

And thus I stuff, Jurassic-World-Style, two extended palms keeping the hunter and prey apart. (Why I was trying to keep a clearly immobile bird from moving, I don't know.) I had to think fast--there was no way to move the bird, but there was also no way to move my dogs, either--I had no where to put them. It was like that weird logic puzzle about the fox, the hen, and the corn across a river, only in this case someone ends up with the Zika virus.

All this time, the bird is reacting to two barking dogs by trying to move, and even got a few lift-off-the-air flaps out of his system, but he was also slowing down. The stress, no doubt, was making his condition worse. So I decided to take a chance--I would scoop up a dog and throw them in the house, and just hope that the other dog wouldn't seize the opportunity to snatch the bird--along with the very real possibility of the bird also flapping its way into the house, which would then add a cat into the equation. And throughout all this, I couldn't leave the door open very long because there was a chance that a bat would fly in the house, as had happened in the past, and there was a not-insignificant chance that I was going to spend the night dealing with two dogs, a cat, a bird, a bat, and rabies.

But this was all processed in a few seconds. I grabbed the closest dog--Chloe--and shoved her in the house. Dexter, thankfully, stayed at bay. I then scooped him up and did the same, and slammed the door. Crisis averted.

But I still had a bird on my porch. I ran to my basement and grabbed a snow shovel. Upon going back outside, however, the bird was no longer moving. He was dead. My only recourse was to move him off the property where he could be granted a proper burial by being eaten by the neighborhood stray cats.

Resigned, I took the shovel and scooped the bird up, which immediately prompted him to flap and flurry and make a scene. Not dead, then. I couldn't now carry him across the street to his final resting place, so the only thing I could do was drop him off the side of the porch, where he landed with a sickening plop.

Ugh. So, now, again, he was off the property and out of scope for the dogs, but it was pitch black. At this point, any further ceremonial burial would have to happen at daylight.

The next morning there was no bird. No evidence of a bird. However, I noticed a pile of feathers on the other side of the street. Had the bird managed to walk away, only to be murdered a hundred yards from where I left him? Who knows. There, the entire ordeal ended, mostly with me washing my hands a hundred thousand times.

A week later I noticed a bunch of flies in our yard. Investigation showed that there was a definitely dead bird in my yard again. I have no idea if it was the same bird or not. In any case, message received.



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