Real Life Angry Birds

By Houndstooth

Last week, we had an unexpected and unannounced visitor to our house.  It all started Monday night when we got home from dog obedience class.  Mr. Taleteller went inside to get Bunny and Flattery for turn out and soon came back inside for a flashlight.

He informed me that there was a baby owl outside and asked if I wanted to come and see it.  Of course I did.  We know that we have quite a few owls around here.  One summer I even tried to rehabilitate a young one who was injured, but the owl didn’t make it.  I did get to hold it with leather gloves on and carried it to the safety of some hedges, though.  We have had them roost under the awnings during severe bad weather and at night we can hear them.  So, it wasn’t completely out of the realm of possibility.

I walked outside with my husband, who told me that it didn’t have a head, so it must be an owl.  Don’t question the logic there, friends of the internet.  Just nod and agree.  It was very little and feathered and sitting very, very still.  After a brief discussion, I told him to go and get me a pair of leather gloves.  I reasoned that no owl should be sitting on the ground and that setting the little fellow up in the tree would be the best course of action.  As I leaned down, a downy head popped up and we discovered that it was not, in fact, an owlet, but a baby grackle.

Baby Grackle -- Tales and Tails

Baby Grackle

This changed things and while I would have preferred to move it to at least the safety of the nearby irises under the tree, I was afraid that any foreign smell would result in the parents abandoning it.  It was already starting to get adult feathers, and I suspected that very soon it would be learning to fly anyway.  We left it alone in hopes that nothing would get it, and that it would move to a safer place on its own.

In the morning, Mr. Taleteller took the dogs outside to take care of their business and learned that the baby bird had decided to stay right where it was.  Not only had he decided to make himself at home ten feet from the turn out pen, but his parents were keeping a very close vigil over him.  My husband began to be a little afraid of them.  He made it a point to tell me that the baby bird was out there, along with his parents and that these were real life angry birds.

Heeeere Birdy! -- Tales and Tails

Heeeere Birdy!

Morgan, in particular, was extremely amped up by the presence of the birds.  Mr. Taleteller told me not to take her outside by myself and just leave taking her outside to him until the baby bird was in a safer location.  Apparently, turn out with Morgan was particularly interesting.  She was extremely interested in the baby bird and my husband had to push her into the turn out pen.  Things didn’t really take a bad turn, though, until the parents started dive bombing my husband in an apparent attempt to deter him from getting any closer to their offspring.  This did not sit well with Morgan.  He took her out of the pen where she was unable to concentrate on her morning ablutions and led her, leaping into the air higher than his head as she tried to take the parents out of the air.  Fortunately, it’s a short trip to the back door.  Bunny, Flattery and Küster all had trouble concentrating on what they were outside to do, as well, but they had less trouble than Morgan.

Still, we figured that it was only going to be a temporary inconvenience.  The parents were still bringing food the the little bird and he was well on the way to growing his adult feathers.  We reasoned that we could manage going around him for a few days and then he’d start flying on his own and fly off to live a happy life. How naive we humans were.

On Wednesday, he was still out there in the yard, and we continued to cautiously maneuver around him.  Flattery and Morgan were by far the most distracted by his presence, but Bunny and Küs were very aware of his presence, too.  Still, as long as we hurried out there, had the dogs get their business done and then hurried back inside, we were okay.  We learned to walk in a strange, hunched over position that kept our heads and faces mostly protected and I learned a new appreciation for poor Tippi Hedren in The Birds.  They were getting a little scarier every time we went outside.

Angry Grackle -- Tales and Tails

Angry Grackle

The frosting on the bird cake came on Thursday afternoon, however.  I went outside after lunch to take Bunny and Flattery to use the turn out pen to see that the baby grackle had taken up residence right inside.  I began to seriously question the rightness of this bird when he set up squatter’s rights in the middle of a predator’s bathroom.  When I saw him sitting inside the pen, I just turned around with the girls and went right back inside.  I went back out and opened the door, hoping that would motivate the little guy to move on.  I certainly made the parents angry and I didn’t waste time out there.

It wasn’t much later when Flattery decided that she absolutely, positively really had to go out.  I leashed her up and took her out, hoping the bird had moved on to a shadier spot.  He still proudly sat inside the pen.  I approached cautiously, thinking that I might be able to sort of herd him out of the pen at least far enough that I could get Flattery inside and close the door.   The little terror went on the attack with wings spread wide and squawking enough to get the attention of everyone in our entire village.  He came towards us and Flattery and I beat a hasty retreat over into the rest of the yard.  We were hoping to escape the notice of the parents but they were on to us.  They started letting out this warning caw and flying towards us.  Of course, Flattery was having no part of going to the bathroom under those strange conditions and we finally went back inside.

Thirty minutes later, Flattery was pacing and panting in the house, so I leashed her up again and we went out again.  I walked her up and down the back alley, all over the back yard and even in the empty house yard next door to us in a desperate attempt to get her to go to the bathroom.  The bird sat taunting us, a foot outside of the pen but not far enough for us to get the door closed and certainly not far enough for Flattery to get by without trying out a taste of grackle, or having the grackle get a taste of her.  I’m not certain how that would have played out, but my bet is on it ending badly for the bird.

A little later, my husband came home and I told him the afternoon’s saga.  He went out to look and came back to report that the bird had finally moved out of the pen and into the hydrangea bush beside the house.  The turn out pen was once again open for business, much to Flattery’s great relief.

The next day, the bird finally moved over to the yard of the empty house next door to us.  I know he was out there, because the parents were still watching over our yard from the wires that run through the back alley to all the nearby houses.  The important part was that he wasn’t in our back yard and we were off the parents’ hit list.

We learned several things from the whole experience.  One is that we need to work on getting Flattery to go to the bathroom on a leash.  Another is that Morgan has more athletic prowess than we realized.  We learned that grackles are the devils of the bird world and that no good deed goes unpunished.  With our luck, the bird will grow up and then fly over our house next year to poop on us.

 



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  • Jackie Bouchard

    Boy – The Birds for sure! That would have driven Rita nuts! She hates birds – especially crows! And that grackle looks a bit like a crow!

  • Sue Dyer

    We don’t have Grackles here, thank goodness:)

  • http://bermudabluez.blogspot.com/ Jeanne Pursell

    Yikes! Birds can be CRAZY!! Chloe would have gone completely nuts!!

  • http://berniethefrenchie.blogspot.com/ Bernie Mac

    I nominated you for the Shine On Award on my blog today! Pop by to grab the badge and the rules

  • http://tailsofteach.blogspot.com/ Rebecca

    Birds are something else!! Glad the area is now safe again for the dogs to use their “facilities”.

  • Sara Blair

    We have birds galore here, but luckily none hang out on the ground for long.

    Glad you all survived :)

  • Christine Sterling

    BOL – my sister rescues those things. House sitting for her is a lot of fun… ;)

    Monty and Harlow

  • Amy Boyer

    Wow! What a great story! We’ve been chewed out roundly in birdie language, but never dive-bombed! Sometimes you just know the scientists are right and birds are actually little T-Rex’s.

  • http://thirtysevenandcounting.wordpress.com/ mrsbearfoot (Lindy)

    Sounds like you all could have used some hard hats! Perhaps you could design some Kevlar coats and hoods for the girls! :D
    I’ve had encounters with Red-winged Blackbirds – those suckers are MEAN!

  • Stevie Hretz-Willcox

    This Spring my female beezy (the best hunter of the pack) was in our yard when I heard some angry birds—I ran outside as the parents were divebombing her head because she of course was snatching up their fledgling. They didn’t bother to follow her when she ran off with it, and I didn’t have to see what she had once I saw the parents. We’ve managed to work around them like you guys in the past by leash walking in our front yard (same with the darned bunny nests in the back–stupid bunnies!), but this time the hounds noticed before we did, and that was bad news for the bird. That is one lucky bird!

  • Anna the GSD

    OMG, it’s like the Birds movie! I wonder if the Grackle is related to Mocking Birds? We has those and they can be downright mean when they have their little babies around. But I do wonder how long that little Grumpy Grackle will make it in the “real world”. He doesn’t sound too bright!

  • Emma

    You are very patient! Mom would have put on gloves and moved the bird out of the way in the beginning and just hoped it would survive. Birds sure can be nasty.

  • http://talesfromthebackroad.com Mary

    It’s that time of year. Torrey almost got pecked by a mama bird on our hike the other day. I did get photos of the baby though.

  • Oz theTerrier

    Oooh, that Grackle sounds just like our Mockingbirds. They dive-bomb anyone and anything that gets near their nest during the entire baby-bird season! They are nuts. We saw a nestling that fell out of the nest a few days ago but the momma wouldn’t let us help it at all. Later, we found a neighborhood cat got to it…so sad. Then, on Saturday we rescued a baby bluejay…we put him back in the nest with his siblings and everything was a-ok. You know, most birds do not have that great of a sense of smell…so if you touch the baby and put it back in the nest, the momma will still take care of it (usually).

  • http://www.twogreyhoundtown.blogspot.com/ Patty

    That sounds like an adventure that I don’t want to have. Glad it is all better now.

  • catchatcaren

    oh this was great! That grackle sure was lucky that he decided to glue himself to the yard of animal lovers! You are incredibly patient my furiend!

  • jan

    You just lived through my worst nightmare, being attacked by angry birds that have all the advantages in an interspecies fight. We are glad to see a happy ending came about.

  • M. K. Clinton

    What a frightful experience! Our Bluejays are pretty angry too. They will dive bomb at a moments notice. Scary, scary!

  • http://www.somethingwagging.com Pamela | Something Wagging

    I remember a similar story from Little Dogs on Long Leashes. Apparently they put ice cream boxes on their heads to protect themselves from diving bird attacks.

    How do you think the dogs would look with ice cream boxes on their heads?

  • http://www.hazelstravelinglife.blogspot.com/ Hazel(Class A Greyhounds…)

    Someone told me that holding an umbrella over one’s head is a deterent.

  • http://ohmydogblog.com Maggie

    OMG. What a pain!! Hopefully that baby stays far, far away until he’s grown. I had a friend who was taking care of a stray cat. He would periodically come into her house to beg for food but always went off on his own, despite her efforts to try to entice him to stay. UNTIL! A nest of baby birds (not sure what kind) hatched on her porch. Every time the cat tried to leave, the parents attacked the cat! Eventually he gave up trying, moved in with my friend permanently, and got very fat and happy for many years!

  • http://romp-roll-rockies.blogspot.com/ KB – RompRollRockies

    Once again, I’m behind on everything, and I was just going to read your posts but not comment. But, this hilarious story deserves a comment. I’m so glad that everything turned out okay in the end but I can visualize the scene with divebombing parent birds and trying to get your dogs to do their business! Oh my…

  • Dennis the Vizsla

    hello houndstooth its dennis the vizsla dog hay wow those ar angry birds all rite!!! ar yoo shoor yoo didnt see enny green pigs lurking arownd snorting and hoarding stolen eggs??? ok bye