I've spent some time lately sitting out in the garden, resting while recovering from my recent breast cancer diagnosis and surgery.
There's been plenty to look at.
The weather has been particularly lovely - warm, sunny, calm days that are encouraging all of us to come outside and enjoy, especially the birds and their new borns.
The garden is alive with flapping, chirping, fluffy fledglings trotting about after their parents, shrieking away, mouths agape for worms and other goodies from the soil.
My two cats, Little Boy and Betsy, are too old now to care. Betsy, in her youth, was atrocious during the season of hatchlings and I was forever rescuing and trying to save these new entrants to life.
Nowadays, they're safe enough, and even walk right by Little Boy as he sleeps amongst the bread that I throw out daily.
However, the black birds are driving me nuts. I feel like I'm being held hostage in my own home.
They're smart, these guys. They've figured out where the cat food is (inside the front door for LB and in the laundry for Ms B) and no matter what I do to discourage them, they keep trying. If I leave the front door open, they walk into the house, pooping as they come, strolling about, casing the joint. They're always on the front deck, watching, eyeing their chances, pooping as they do so. The male blackbird has worked out how to get into the laundry through Betsy's entrance-way, gets up on the washing machine, eats her food and drinks her water, pooping all the way.
I put obstacles up to keep them out of the house, to no avail because it doesn't take them long to figure out how to get round them. Every trap I set, they work out a way to avoid it - and they pass this on to their new kids, so it's inter-generational, I reckon.
I have to leave the doors closed, something I occasionally forget and then pay dearly for, cleaning up the poop off the carpet.
Birds are smart. They figure stuff out. I once watched this programme on TV and they determined that our native parrot, the Kea, was one of the smartest and cleverest creatures in the world.
I"ve not spent so much time before, watching the birds, nor have I ever had to deal with so much bird poop on the carpet.
One day I threw my arms up in despair, thinking I've suffered enough lately, leave me alone! The mama blackbird and her baby looked up at me in synchronised choreography, checking out my behaviour as one, pooping as one, fluffing their wings as one, then stalking off with a 'what the hell' attitude.