Ghost Cardinal

I was sitting in my living room doing something highly unproductive when I heard a bird cheeping nearby.  Not tweeting or singing pleasantly… cheeping, as in cheep… cheep… cheep… cheep… cheep — very annoying. It reminded me of a female cardinal we had a few years ago that would cheep at her own, apparently very threatening, reflection outside our bedroom window. Every morning she was out there… cheeping. She was probably out there other times too, but it was the morning that mattered, the morning when I wanted to sleep.

Never before did I want to kill a cardinal, or any bird for that matter. She was only doing as her nature drove her to do, and because of that, I didn’t kill her, even though I thought about it. I also thought about the incredible guilt–imagine tiny, bald, baby cardinals starving to death in one of our back yard trees, all because of me. But what if I had killed the cheeper, and one of those babies survived because other animals are always helpful and loving toward each other like in Disney movies, and I could have been a villain! Damn… I should have killed the cardinal.

I’m kidding! I feel guilty killing stink bugs, and I hate those things. Wait… where was I?

I refrained from bird murder, even though the alternatives didn’t work as well as killing would have. I felt better about myself for not resorting to avicide. Instead, I scared her off, pounding on the window or opening it. But she would come back, usually as I finally fell asleep again. I tried frightening her away several times. It clearly wasn’t working.

I slowly peeked over the window ledge, so I could see what she was doing that made her cheep like a madbird. I spotted her at the truck mirrors, cheeping menacingly at her reflection so, I folded them in, finding a wasp nest in the process. (The truck sat a while… a long while as we didn’t have the thousands of dollars to fix what would make it pass inspection, but that is another story of pain and failure.) The nest was abandoned, so I could not curse the wasps for failing to drive off Mrs. Cardinal.

The little cheeper didn’t care about the mirror as much as I hoped. In her apple seed brain, there was a threatening female in every window. Why our truck and bedroom windows were more dangerous than the hundreds of other windows within a one-minute flight, I don’t know. Her nest couldn’t have been closer to those windows than all the windows on the back of our house because there was nowhere to have a nest! Stupid bird (like there are smart ones other than parrots).

Short of draping every window on the house and both our vehicles, I was going to have to deal with cheeping. Since I am lazy and suspect the neighbors wouldn’t appreciate mismatched bedding all over our windows, I kept trying to scare her off. That annoying cheeper kept on cheeping.

Until she didn’t.

I diligently tried to drive her off until it finally worked. That’s what I tell myself. I never imagine her heading off to other windows of actual bird murderers or of her lifeless body hanging over the eave of a roof because some careless child was too lazy to collect a kite string (true story–not my kite, but it was my roof and an image that stayed with me).

So anyway, the cardinal quit, and I felt bad about it, but I did like sleeping. Still, she haunts me, like the other day with the cheeper outside, and though I’m rid of her, I never will be.

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