The rock band “The Who” sang, “Nobody knows what it’s like to be the bad man behind blue eyes.”
Well, now somebody does.
And it feels pretty lousy.
It all began when we bought this year’s hanging baskets for our porch. Actually, I suppose it began about five years ago when we found out our hanging baskets were like oceanfront property to robins.
Every year I’d discover a finely constructed bird’s nest in one of our baskets, always the one in the same location. And when that happened, that particular basket’s days were numbered. I didn’t want to ruin the nest by watering the flowers. And once the eggs appeared, I didn’t want to go anywhere near the basket. Especially since I prefer to not have my eyes pecked out.
So each summer, I’d put up with a robin dive-bombing me every time I stepped out of my front door while I gradually watched the flowers in my hanging basket die. Eventually, the new baby birds would fly away, and then I’d remove the basket and toss the dead flowers into the yard waste container.
But not this year, I promised myself. This year I was going to take a stand.
Thanks to Google, coming up with a solution was easy. All I had to do, I learned, was to take a bunch of plastic forks and stick them upside down in the center of my baskets. The forks were not sharp enough to hurt the birds, the website explained, but would make it impossible to build a nest. Simple enough.
Did it work? You bet it did. So much so that not only were there no signs of even the beginnings of a nest, but also, more than once I witnessed a robin attempt to land on the basket in the preferred location, only to immediately fly off. The robin was obviously annoyed. But so what? I was relieved.
Until the robins started kicking up a fuss.
They didn’t fly at me the way they did when they had eggs to protect, but they did let me know they weren’t one bit happy. They — or was it just the same one robin, over and over, I’m not sure — missed no opportunity to yell at me from a safe distance. The tone told me this bird was not wishing me a fine morning either. No, I could tell her rant was filled with four-letter chirps.
After a while, the offended robin brought her friends around and they’d sit on the fence or on a branch of the neighbor’s tree chirping all sorts of profanities at me. I felt like a visiting player at a Phillies game.
Perhaps it was just my own guilty conscience, but as I went for my morning walks, I could swear every robin I saw gave me a dirty look. One sat atop the chain link fence at the Pittston Area middle school and stared a hole in me until I was out of sight. I took an alternate route the next time. You don’t suppose robins have some sort of social network, do you?
Yes, I considered removing the forks, at least in the one basket. But then I got stubborn, which is not at all like me. I just didn’t feel like letting this robin and her friends push me around.
Still, the guilt is almost more than I can bear.
And it hasn’t helped that I now have a new best friend in my front yard. A blue jay.
I’ve often heard disparaging things about blue jays so I looked it up and found out everything I heard is true. According to owlcation.com, blue jays are “loud, aggressive, boisterous bullies who threaten smaller birds.”
They also, “may rob nests of other birds for a meal.”
And, here, this blue jay acts like we’re best buds. I swear whenever he flies by, he’d give me a thumbs-up if he could.
What bothers me most is that the blue jay thinks he and I are birds of a feather.
I’m sure the robins think we are too.
Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week. Look for his blogs online during the week at pittstonprogress.com.