March 14, 2005 @ 7:15 am | Filed under: Nature Study
It must be spring: Crazy Mama Bluebird has returned. There’s a bluebird house under our back deck, and we’ve had a nesting pair every spring since we moved here three years ago. They’re an amusing couple; the hardworking papa busies himself down below the deck, inspecting his house, while his mate spends her days attacking her own reflection in our windows. She darts forward, delivering sharp raps to the glass, over and over, as fierce as any warrior sparrow-queen in a Redwall book.
We’ve tried all the tricks recommended on the birding sites, like pictures of owls taped to the glass. She just finds a new window. Last spring she targeted the high window in our entryway, the one we can only reach by ladder. In the early mornings, she’d wake us up with her frantic, insistent drumroll on the glass. Scott would stagger into the hall and hurl rolled-up socks at the window to scare her away. By late March, when she finally retired to the nest her patient spouse had carefully arranged to her satisfaction, there were five pairs of socks sitting on the inaccessible windowsill next to the paper airplane my father (aka “Funny Grandpa”) landed there during his last visit.
Now she’s back. She reminds the girls of Ginger Pye, the puppy in Eleanor Estes’s book of the same name. For a time, Ginger is terrorized by a strange dog who stares out at him from a large pier-glass mirror. Yesterday we were talking about this book, discussing the part when Ginger is missing and his young owners, Rachel and Jerry, are seeking the identity of an Unsavory Character who had been lurking about their house. Before long, the reader has a pretty good idea who the dognapper is, but Jerry and Rachel haven’t a clue. They’re stalking an imaginary suspect whom they’ve pictured right down to his sinister mustache, while all the time the (mustache-less) truth is right in front of them. The girls and I talked about how this is a good example of dramatic irony.
They want to know if there is dramatic irony in the antics of fierce Mama Bluebird, since we know something she doesn’t know. That led me to ponder what our house must look like through her eyes—this mammoth structure full of hostile rivals, all darting beaks and fluttering wings. How brave she is, and how persevering! Imagine preparing to raise a family under such conditions! It’s no wonder she seems a little crazed at times.