I returned home the other night to find a small bird scrabbling along the bottom of the door into my apartment building. It was sort of sniffing (interesting to see a bird sniff) at the door-crack in that frantic way common to dogs, and I immediately decided that at some point during the day, its baby had flown into the vestibule and been trapped in there, and this bird was panic-stricken and anxious to retrieve its youngster.I didn’t really know what to do:for some reason, I have this idea that you’re not supposed to touch birds at all.I don’t think there’s any logic to it, but I have a vague notion that it would be bad for both parties; that I would get a bird-disease of some kind (rabies?), and the bird would be forever after shunned by other birds because of the indelible human stench I would transfer to it.I don’t know where I got these ideas, but instinctively, I didn’t want to come into contact with the bird.I tried to sort of nudge it away with my toe, and the bird squatted down, looked up at me, and screamed.It actually screamed.
I was frightened. I quickly gave it its personal space, and stood some distance away, wondering how to get into my building. If I opened the door, it would enter, and then I’d have to deal with getting it right back out again (and possibly its baby, if my theory was correct, and I think you’re really not supposed to touch baby birds). As I wondered what to do, a hipster-boy came along and started to unlock the door.
‘There’s this bird here,’ I said.
‘Oh!’he said, surprised, as he peered at the bird through his black-framed glasses.Then, exactly as I had done, he nudged at it with the toe of his Chuck Taylor.The bird screamed again, doubly outraged now.The boy came to stand by me.
We didn’t know what to do.
‘I have this idea that you’re not supposed to touch birds,’ I said.
‘Hmm,’ he said, and I could tell by the way he said it that he wasn’t going to have a long attention span for being cute with a bird. He probably had things to do, whereas I didn’t.
I approached the bird again and, using a circular from a Chinese restaurant, sort of scooped it away from the door. The bird ran at me, shrieking in fury. I darted away, and then, realizing how ridiculous that was, said, ‘I don’t know why I’m running from it – it doesn’t have any teeth.’
‘I’m terrified,’ said the boy.
The bird, meanwhile, had gone back to rooting around by the door, and I suddenly realized what it was doing.It saw its reflection in the brass strip that’s nailed along the bottom of the door, and it was attempting to fight, or kiss, or talk to the other bird it thought was in there.Again, behavior that’s really more common in dogs than birds, but I guess a bird can be just as stupid as a dog sometimes.
Between the two of us humans, we eventually managed to enter our lobby without the bird coming along, too.