Hunt For Red… Bird

He came back…about 6:30 this morning. I heard the sounds in my sleep and was awake in seconds. Let me explain.

Saturday is my one morning to occasionally sleep in. I am an early riser and always have been. I wake up at 5 a.m., hop out of bed and am singing within 10 minutes. On one of those singing mornings my husband, who was NOT an early riser, rolled over in bed, looked at me and said “If you were a bird, I’d shoot you.” Those words would come back to haunt him a few years later!
Back to the visitor this morning: a gorgeous red cardinal who was alternating singing at the top of its lungs with repeated attacks on the screening on my sliding doors to the deck outside my bedroom, ripping holes with each attack. Any chance to sleep in was cancelled but this “early bird” reminded me of another cardinal a few years ago who devised a battle plan to attack the same screen.

Morning after morning it came, viciously hitting the screen and grabbing the mesh with its claws. When it tired of the game, the cardinal would fly away (presumable to prepare for the next day’s battle) but the results of the attack remained. We began to see the pattern of tears and rips that only grew with each day’s attacks. While we admired the bird’s tenacity and mental toughness, we started devising our own battle plans. First, we tied a yellow and black shirt at the top of the screen that flapped with every breeze in order to frighten the cardinal away. All that did was cause three neighbors to call and leave similar messages on our phone: “Hey, I think someone tried to break in the sliding doors on your house and you must have scared them away fast…all they left was a yellow and black shirt.” We tried tying plastic bags, balloons and every other thing that we could think of but no such luck. The bird kept coming back.

My husband became obsessed with the cardinal and threatened to shoot in the air to scare it off. “What would the neighbors think,” I questioned, “if they heard a shotgun blast at 6:30 in the morning?” “They would think I got the guy in the yellow and black shirt,” my husband responded. I was not convinced so he plotted and schemed to think of a way to get rid of the bird.

Two weeks later I came home to a wonderful surprise: on our kitchen table was an empty shotgun shell with a red feather in it! I ran into the living room. “You got it! You shot that cardinal! Hallelujah!” I yelled to my husband. He gave me the smile of a triumphant hunter and said “One shot. That’s all it took.” As I searched for more accolades for his success, I heard a familiar sound coming from outside our screen doors in the bedroom: mesh being torn and ripped by tiny claws. “You didn’t kill the bird,” I accused. “It’s back! I hear it!” My husband got up from his chair and headed to the bedroom as he yelled over his shoulder “I didn’t make up that red feather. The bird is dead…gone…kaput!” But it wasn’t.

A confession followed. “I saw a pile of red feathers by the deck and I figured a cat got the cardinal. So I decided to “dress up” the facts just a little” my husband admitted. “How was I supposed to know that the bird had a brother?”

I miss those days of red bird attacks and battle plans. And I miss that triumphant hunter most of all.

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