As I arrived home from my walk this morning, I watched a starling* struggle an earthworm from the grass in front of my house. A pull, some tug and stretch, another long pull and then thwiiing. The worm was yanked free, and the bird flew off, wiggly cargo like a slick moustache dangling from its beak.
Ah, spring. Each dewy morning a clamor of miracle and horror: the baby starlings will eat; one snap, and the earthworm's work is abruptly done.
I'm content, mostly, to let the drama play out: natural order and all that. Plus the fact that some things are just too hard to think about.
Until we're made to think about them. Such as happened last year around this time, when several seasons of chronic refusal to deal with the starlings nesting in the attic eaves forced me to play a role in a very unnatural order.
It started with the scritching sounds on the roof. Followed by a metallic thunk-clang near the bathroom vent. Soon thereafter, skitter and scramble in the attic and finally, a sound like an erratic drill outside the window. I had no choice but to look. And there was the squirrel. Looking back at me through the escape hole he was chewing through the eave.
For the starlings, whose babies' peeps I could hear just above a closet ceiling, I'd managed to invent a tidy narrative. For the squirrel chewing so obviously through the house, I couldn't afford the sentiment of story. So phone calls were made. Questions were asked. More phone calls were made. And at last arrived two trucks with two men, several ladders, many cages and an assortment of bait. An inspection was conducted: gaps in the rooflines were allowing access for the squirrels. As for those starlings: they hadn't been nesting in the eaves; they were inside the attic itself. They all had to go. A plan was laid out. And executed.
The details don't much matter now. The squirrels are gone. The starlings and their fledglings are gone.This morning's bird carried its worm to someone else's roof. And here I sit, still re-imagining the narrative. Surely the trapped squirrels were released from the cages into some faraway, unnamed woods. Surely those babies had already fledged by the time the swaddling wads of twigs and straw were extracted from the recesses. Surely next time I'll pick up the phone, make the right call in the safety of the off-season. Surely, surely.
*SOME NOTES ON STARLINGS:
Just the Facts, Ma'am . . .
They're not from around here!
What's Not to Love? A Murmuration of Starlings: