I could only assume that Tippi Hedren and Alfred Hitchcock were about to arrive at La Antigua. Some of the other cast of the movie had arrived earlier when two Blackbirds decided to build a nest in the courtyard of La Antigua shortly after my birding friends had visited. After learning what I had learnt from Jeff and Becky, I thought the idea of renting out some of the branches of one of my yellow Jasmine plants was a fab idea…you know, sort of a back to nature, ecologically sound commitment on my part. Of course I have been recycling religiously since moving to the village, so the move towards a sound ecological environment was already in place. And clearly, all the green lushness of the courtyard was, after all, pouring tons of oxygen back into the atmosphere. But now I would have house-guests (so to speak) that I wouldn’t need to take for long walks multiple times per day. Yes, the birds were here and I was one happy Mallorquin camper.
Several times each day, I would see Mr or Mrs Blackbird zooming into the courtyard, diving head-long into the mass of leaves that almost completely hid the nest. I was under the impression that this was becoming a major building project and wondered how they managed to get a construction project permit when I have been struggling to get one for my roof terrace project. I also wondered if what they were building was going to be a proper home, you know, with little children and everything (okay, little birds). Well yesterday I found out.
I had just returned from the market when I opened the courtyard door, and there, in amongst some of the plants was a small bird. It wasn’t a sparrow or any other of the raucous chirpy birds that only seem to know how to go tweet-tweet. It appeared to be a little Blackbird. Whilst I was quite impressed that I could stand there and watch him hop along, I don’t think he was too thrilled with the concept that el dueño (dwan-yo) of La Antigua had returned home. I wondered why the little bugger didn’t just fly away, but then I noticed that he didn’t have any long tail feathers, which, not being an aeronautical engineer but also not being a total idiot, I assumed would be needed to actually fly. Clearly, he (or she) was the son (or daughter) of the Blackbirds. How cool was that, I thought; it was like being in some Wild Kingdom reality programme (with the minor exception that Mr. Blackbird was probably out at the pub all day whilst Mrs. Blackbird was taking care of the family). Then I realised that – think about this for a minute – junior Blackbird was in the garden hopping around because he can’t fly yet, which meant that he must have been chucked out of the nest. (I was quite pleased that I wasn’t there when he must have done a triple-lutz from the nest)
I went inside, thinking that at some point he (junior) would find his way up to the nest again, and didn’t want to disrupt his (hopefully valiant) efforts. This morning I saw that he was standing on the back of one of the courtyard chairs. Cute. Suddenly I saw his mother (I was quite sure that his father was still at the pub with his buddies) land on the chair with breakfast for the tail-less one. Well I am assuming it was breakfast as mum was jamming some nasty looking shit into the little bird’s mouth. I stood there for a few minutes, content in the fact that I was having my tea and toast, whilst this poor sod was getting grubs or whatever you get when you can’t fly. After having a conference call with one of my clients, I ventured outside, carefully trying to avoid disturbing the little bird that was probably trying to figure out how to digest the alleged food; but he wasn’t there on the chair anymore. Well, I should clarify a bit. He wasn’t physically there, but apparently his digestive system was working rather well as evidence that he had been there was present on the back of the chair. Nice. I thought about going back inside to make a sign with my computer that said “This is not a bathroom,” but instead I just dug up my nuclear-poweres cleaning supplies so I could fix the chair. As I was doing the fifth rinse, I saw the little guy in the bushes, but at just about the same time, I heard a rustling sound on the opposite side of the courtyeard near the cistern. Holy Ornithologist Batman!…today there were two little tail-less wonders hopping around the courtyard.
Immediately I began to think of the ramifications of the fact that my courtyard was fast becoming a bird hostel. I could, A) apply for an EU funding grant to make La Antigua a Bird Sanctuary – the rule makers of the EU are daft, but even I didn’t think they were that daft; B) corner the market on the island’s guano production – at the rate the bird population of the courtyard was expanding, this could be an option, but a very messy one; C) stay inside so as to not disturb the birds – sorry, until the birds begin to contribute to my mortgage payments, this option seemed out of the question; or D) hope that the bird-children grow tail wings quickly so they can bugger-off. This option did seem to make the most sense so I figured screw’em and went about my daily outside chores with the hope that the additions to La Antigua had not seen ‘The Birds.’ If anyone knows how long it will take for them to grow proper flying tails, please let me know. In the mean time, I think I had better go buy some more cleaning supplies.
the courtyard at La Antigua, acrylic, before the birds arrived
hmmm, Mum, with a mouthful of grubs
a new arrival at La Antigua
complaining about the breakfast selection
new arrival number 2 (I think)
leaving surprises for me at the door
copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, James B. Rieley