Saturday, March 27, 2010

I am "blog - tied" and birdwitted

Yes, I have posts inside of me yet to be written, singing poetic karioke to some odd little memory tunes... but they shall not happen until I can resolve my current bafflement with Blogger and what I think is my completely used up free photo space.  So no pictures from my point of view until I come up with an alternate plan  - which never fear, is doable, just not as quickly as I'd hoped. (There are many free hosting sites for pictures, I know.  I'm just working on getting something more permanent up and running.  Well it's up and running, I just can't access it yet.)   


Until I resolve this little problem my posts will sadly remain mostly verbal- well with the odd non-commercial use generic picture from the picture library files supplied by Google.  This will limit somewhat what I want to write about as there won't be pictures "live" from Corfu which is of course what this blog is about.  That and my rambling.


I had been planning to write on the return - or should I say averted return of our spring swifts.  (or as we refer to them, "those idiot noisy birds".)

I actually started writing this post on the 19th of March.  (time does pass on little winged feet...)  Life, friends over for dinner, the weekend, followed by an entire week's worth of miserable cold virus of the head and chest sort, conspired to postpone the entry til today.  I still have a stuffy head and my voice is a bit deep, occasionally interrupted by a messy sounding cough, but I am no longer in that sickroom  nether world between feeling sorry for myself and actually feeling miserable.]

So, as I started to say, today I heard the real harbinger of spring screeching a welcome note!  The swifts have returned! 

There was a mud nest in the corner of the portico and a couple of birds came and started "fixing it up"; we thought, when we first moved here that - romantically- they were swallows returning to their little mud nest shell in the entryway.   We didn't realise when we first saw that first mud nest in the portico that every surviving baby ever born in that nest would decide to roost in the front entryway- at the same time.  They were surprisingly legion!

no. body. move.From two birds suddenly the flock arrived and the front porch became a daily Waterloo of screeching birds and flying clumps of sticky mud and bird leavings everywhere, on the walls floor and screens.

The first couple of years one nest became two, with much fighting, and two became four with more fighting and noisy constant misunderstandings.  These birds do not find each other good neighbors.

Then expansion of territory became the general flock idea and the whole house was inundated by diving screaming birds. 

Obviously some lost.  They did not resign from the battlefield.  There were still spots to find on other parts of the house!  Every day it felt like an episode from an imaginary Alfred Hitchcock sit-com,  The Trouble with Psycho-Birds

The small nest in the corner of the entryway, became two nests and that year there were over 8 babies- most who fell out of the nests.

The next year the same thing happened again only all the babies from the previous year -that had survived- now insisted that they had a right to build a nest here as well as the previous tenants!  So we had a few more nests and several failed attempt nests, that were simply large muddy spotches on the wall.  The mud was rock-hard and impossible to remove.

Fast forward to several years later.

civic center innOur romance with the birds had long since faded.  When they arrive we begin our tactical maneuvers! The whole length of the front terrace is strung up with aluminum foil in key places... otherwise they drop mud and bird poo all over ourselves and any of our guests who try and sit in the shade on the terrace!  The mud does NOT come out of the cushion covers.  (we have recovered the porch furniture TWICE.)  Not romantic. Not charming.

A few of you will say, "Ah but there must be a way to live and let live," and I say to you- "WE have tried, but THEY take no prisoners!"

Last year we had a war of birds over the primary spot in the entry!  Swooping and screeching from dawn til dusk.

We could not open the front door from April til September.  We couldn't even open the window on the door for some air circulation without being deafened by bird shrieks.

The cats were nervous wrecks.  Both the dog and the cats were afraid to go out the front door, and no guests could come in that way as they were assaulted by diving birds! 

We covered the entry with a bamboo curtain and a sign to lead guests around the house to the back kitchen door. The birds again expanded. They tried to colonize the back covered terrace (which would have made it impossible to come in or out of the house at all!)

We discovered a secret weapon.

We learned from nature, as last year we had a viper climb the wall and try and clean out the nests. The snake was out of luck and only managed to terrify me, as the baby birds were all trying out their wings and bumbling all over the yard.  Still after the snake came, the birds refused to return to the porch and instead we had a babies outside our bedroom screaming at first light to the mother (who was approximately the same size as they were) to feed them!   (the only reason I have these pics are because I posted them last year to my mini blog on Tumblr...back on July 17!)

Anyway, that experience set our minds working .  We strung some leftover hose up on the rafters and magically the birds avoided the area completely!  They thought it was a snake!

So now I have a rubber snake (no photo attached re: see above photo site problem) dangling in a key place and though the birds arrive they shriek and carry on for a few minutes, to this point they still fly off.  T has strung up the yellow hose as well.

It may not work.  As we all know there are NO guarantees in this life.   T washed off four big mud splats from the wall this morning.  Still we live in hope!

Lesser Swallow-tailed SwiftAs for the Swifts?  Do not feel sad for our little feathered friends.

Since we first bought the house here, and were the only house for miles, there are now -between our house and the main road (a distance of approximately 2 kilometers) - well over 15 new houses with lovely overhangs and terraces.

I love all my new neighbors.  Many of them are avid bird and certainly animal lovers and I am sure will welcome the little 'banes' of our existence' with open hearts.

I wish both birds and neighbors well.

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  1. OMG...I know about the birds. Our neighbors have CDs hanging all over their balcony. But yet, they've decided to start collecting pigeons as a hobby...and they sit on MY house. As if we didn't have enough birds out here already.

    Sorry to hear about your photo problem. We'll wait for you photos and in the meantime, love what you write.

    I'm glad you feel better!

  2. Dear Cheryl-

    I swear by rubber snakes. I just wish I could find more! I've thought of becoming a craft person in my old age and making on out of papier-mache or something! Pigeon poo is prodigious - the birds also have little mites on them.

    Perhaps an investment in a hawk would be timely?

    You could carry it on your arm like a sort of fashion accessory and whenever you saw your neighbors pigeons you could slip the little hood off the birds head and sic em on them!

    Photo problem will be solved. When might be tricky, but I'll figure something out temporarily if I have to.

    Thanks for the "better" wishes. I hate getting a cold. You feel so useless, and there's nothing you can do but annoy people with your symptoms and feel rotten.


  3. OK, that picture of the snake freaked me out. But I can see the wisdom of such a solution. We have crows that are constantly trying to build nests around our yard, and I chase them away because I know if one couple gets a foot-hold, it's goodbye peace and quiet forever.
    Good luck!

  4. Great idea! I have a place on my house that is always a nesting spot. Once they build it, I don't want to tear it down. My home will have snakes under the eve now!

  5. Dear Dedene,

    If you think the picture was freaky, you should have been here, only to look up and suddenly realize that your house was being attacked by serpents! (Not something that gave ME pleasant dreams for a few nights!)

    That turned out to be the deciding factors for me anyway, because usually during spring "baby bird" season, many of them fall out of the nest and we have more snakes in the yard than usual- looking for leftovers. Once they made it to the house, the birds nests were history, for me, anyway.

    Ah crows. Yes, the bane of almost all farmers - we have a pair living not too far away. Fortunately, however, they are just far enough so as not to drive us mad, but they're around all year, not just in the springtime!

    Dear Eric,

    Yes. Well. RUBBER snakes under the eves...

    I know what you mean about tearing a nest down once it's been built. I can't do it either. Which is of course why prevention is worth a pound of cure! (Still, it behooves you to warn friends and family who visit on the off chance they catch a rubber snake swaying in the breeze out of their peripheral vision. Wouldn't want to send anyone off to the hospital with cardiac arrest...)

  6. Good grief Jes...It really did sound like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds! Much as I love birds I don't think I could handle that situation.

    We have some real snakes in this village...want me to parcel up and send them to you? :-)

  7. Dear Ayak,

    Too kind... NO. (bet you thought it would be a convenient way to get rid of FIL!) Oddly enough other people have no problems with them and live completely in harmony - one nest, no fighting, cute babies (no real snakes!)

    We just seem to be doomed I guess.


  8. I can't imagine having a snake dangling overhead. We do have small wrens that build nests under our awning, which never bothered me before, but I never thought of a snake seeking them out. We had a problem with a bat once trying to sleep in a crevice near our entrance and a Cardinal that pecked at our window for a year, fake snakes and owls did not frighten him. I enjoy the wildlife though!

  9. Dear Wanda,

    I agree with you and normally I too enjoy the wildlife.

    We have a lot of bats and I think they're wonderful (well as long as they're not in the bedroom - which happens once in a while). Generally we have a lot of different birds all around and I love it.

    Just never had to deal with a pack of territorial swifts before we moved here! (Ok, or vipers!) These birds winter in Africa and I guess snakes in trees are not uncommon there either.

    ONe of the things people who come to Corfu enjoy the most by the way, is downtown, on the Liston in the evening, have a coffee at one of the lovely cafes and watching the swifts swirl and gather by the thousands in the sky before they settle for the evening. (They are very social birds.) MOst all of them live in the roofs and overhangs of the houses and apartments in town.



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