I’m Just Saying: Welcome to Pam’s avian ER

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, June 22, 2017

When you live in an A-frame, or ‘IHOP,’ as we like to call it (sans the orange roof), the one rather sad part is that birds tend to fly into the upper windows. Even hanging medallions hasn’t seemed to help and it is not uncommon for us to be casually eating lunch or watching the news when something with the audible force of a softball hits above your head and makes you jump six feet out of your chair and waste a rather nice pinot noir as it plops onto your lap.

The good news is that more often than not the birds are only stunned and they are immediately taken into ER: my downstairs bathroom sink, where I carefully place them on a soft towel, turn out the lights and close the door (much to the annoyance of Bub) and wait several minutes for them to recover. Sometimes it takes them a very little while, and sometimes, as I can imagine they’ve probably suffered concussion and terrible whiplash, a full hour.

Generally I mention to Paul that there is a patient in the loo, but if he’s not home and I’m out running errands, I don’t, and he’s not terribly fond of being dive bombed, big girl’s blouse that he is, by a common house wren that takes her wrath out on him when his bladder is bursting.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The array of birds have been fascinating to examine up close and the most interesting one of all was the recent, quite large, Pileated Woodpecker who hit the window with the force of a baseball bat. I was sitting at the kitchen table and saw him immediately drop onto the deck, and dashed out the door as two of the cats were out and approached him as if he was manna from heaven, salivating.

Lying on his side, ‘Woody’ was breathing rapidly and I was mindful that his poor neck might be broken (the size of his head was enormous and I can’t even imagine how strong their necks must be to jackhammer through trees to find insects), so I put the cats inside and guarded him until he sat up, still woozy, then placed him in a towel and carried him to the ER. He rested inside for a good half hour and I went upstairs to take a shower, just before Paul came in from mowing and drinking probably a quart of water, en route to the downstairs bathroom.

Only I didn’t know that until I heard him scream.

Well, not scream, as Paul’s broadcast quality voice is far too beautifully baritone in nature, but there were a series of yelps intermingled with the all too familiar ‘Woody Woodpecker’ cry as the bird had evidently felt well enough to have been perching on the shower rail as Paul entered, and flapping about the walls in fright (the bird, not Paul), had been successful in descending Paul into an unexpected terror that was most Hitchcockian.

“Oh, it’s just a BIRD,” I muttered to his protestations, cornering Woody and draping it with the towel as I removed him from the room.

“I KNOW it’s a bird,” Paul stormed, “I figured that out as soon as it hit me in the head. What I didn’t know was that I’d be attacked by a (insert rude word here) giant Woodpecker when I was about to pee.”

“Well, I’m taking him outside, now,” I replied.

“How would you like it if it happened to you?” he continued, as I walked down the hall, carrying my patient. “How would you like it if you went into the bathroom and someone forgot to tell you there was a wild raccoon in there? Or a bat? Maybe jot it down, next time.”

Still smarting from his justified rebuke, I placed Woody on the front deck and drew back the covering so he could see. He looked at me in horror, then fled skywards, giving his ear-splitting screech all the way, until he landed high in the branches of a Carolina Maple in the front yard.

“You’re welcome!” I called out, sarcastically. I turned to see Bub standing behind me, twitching his tail and watching the bird’s flight with great interest. He looked up at me as if to say,

“Well, what did you expect?”