Follow one crying eye on

The Birds

I remember watching the Hitchcock film, The Birds, when I was a child and – whilst I am not generally too susceptible to horror films – finding it truly frightening.

I have never been keen on birds indoors, although not particularly bothered about them outside. My aunt has always kept a budgerigar or cockatiel (the current cockatiel being nearly 30 years old) and the odd occasion when we arrived whilst the bird was out of its cage would fill me with unease.

I was attacked by a crow on my walk to work a few years ago. It swooped down at me and pecked my head before flying back up again. I couldn’t quite believe what had happened and thought that maybe I was ‘having a moment’ – it was, after all, still very early in the morning for me (7.30am-ish) and I had been in my own little world with the radio on my headphones whilst walking beside the river from Waterloo to Tower Bridge. I asked another passer-by if they had seen what happened – and they confirmed it but neither of us could quite work out what I had done to deserve it.

It was near to the Globe theatre, and I later realised that there must have been a nest in one of the trees nearby to have provoked the crow to dive-bomb possible predators. I googled it to see if others had experienced the same thing. In fact there was another report from further upriver in Battersea Park, and there are numerous examples online of crows attacking people or other animals whilst protecting their young.

So, I am a bit wary now, even outside. And even more so since earlier this week I was sitting at my desk which overlooks my garden when I heard a persistent screeching, which was clearly some sort of birdy warning sound. As I glanced out of the window, I saw my cat racing towards the house, with a crow in hot pursuit, swooping down low but then rearing up as it approached the house and disappearing from view. I heard the cat-flap burst open, and then my cat calling to see where I am. He does this a lot now, to make sure we are home so he can come and socialise. I went to investigate, and sadly he had brought me a small – and this time lifeless – present. It didn’t look big enough to be a crow-baby, but who knows. (I made him take it outside and then eat it all up – whilst I hate the fact that domestic cats such as mine are depleting the bird population, if they’re going to kill the bird, it is even worse not to at least use it for the ‘natural’ purpose of feeding. And note to self – we thought this animal too old and useless to hunt, but he clearly needs a warning bell round his neck again.)

For the last three weeks, I have been singing in a vicarage garden on Monday mornings with the folksinging group. We have survived on Zoom for 14 months, and were very keen to meet again in person. Singing outdoors can be difficult and certainly lacks the finer acoustics to be found in a church or church hall or concert venue. Many of our seasonal songs for this time of year involve ‘small birds’, and we have been excited to note the birdsong of such British garden native species such as the robin and blackbird, punctuating our harmonious reunion. Nevertheless,  last week the persistent screeching of parakeets became more than a little annoying. There’s no pleasing people sometimes!

This week, I think I’ll take a hat. Not only do several of us have to sit beneath the tree, risking deposits from above (to the amusement of others out in the open), but I am now sure that I am a marked person for the local crows. Mr Google tells me they are able to recognise faces. Perhaps behatted and gurning appropriately while singing, they will fail to notice it’s me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow one crying eye on