Today is Earth Day. All the more fitting for me to write about the house sparrow that has been pecking at my window for more than a week. According to the site All About Birds, the house sparrow is not native to Ohio; it was introduced via Europe to Brooklyn, NY, in 1851. Not surprisingly, they are considered an aggressive species, like starlings, which also were introduced from Europe. I consider starlings the thugs of the bird world and imagine they’re cooking and dealing meth in my backyard. The knowledge that Shakespeare enthusiasts brought them to America in the 19th century just makes it all the more tragicomic.
But back to my self-flagellating sparrow. He sees his reflection in my window and believes it to be a competitor; hence, the pecking and bashing and flapping. It is mating season and he is protecting his turf in our cherry tree. I get this. Yesterday, I took the extended tree branch cutter to the limb from which he was launching his attacks. I had an afternoon free of tap-tapping agony. (It is always two taps or raps against the window, over and over.)
This morning, my fine feathered friend is back at it, jumping from a variety of limbs and pecking at the window from all angles. It’s like I somehow made it worse, that in taking down that one branch, he is even more determined to hurt his assumed enemy, which is himself. So, my writer mind is deriving all kinds of metaphors watching this poor bird flinging himself at my window — you know, corny things, like mistaking our own reflection in someone else’s life, or the obsessive-compulsive things we do to make ourselves feel safe.
But despite my understanding of biology and metaphor, the sparrow’s mad pecking against my window creeps me out. As if it is a sign of something bad to come. Rows and rows of psychotic sparrows and starlings along the telephone wires, a scene from The Birds, fortune tellers of man’s time to come, pay back for all that meddling in the natural world.
I could chop down the cherry tree but that would unleash a whole new bunch of metaphors. I can’t cover the window because I can’t reach it outside, being on the second floor of a split-level house bordered by large, snaggy evergreen bushes. It is, coincidentally, one of two sealed windows, double-paned, impenetrable.
And so my fate, at least until mating season is over, is entwined with a reckless sparrow. There is poetry in this, I’m sure.