I want to thank my friend Donna for adding this excellent word to my vocabulary. Saying it aloud is like taking your mouth to the playground.
It’s also the perfect word for the bird-brained antics that go on in our yard every day.
A couple of years ago, a male cardinal in our yard had a fearsome adversary who was constantly threatening his territory. The cardinal had a nest in the holly tree, and this other bird would park itself just below the cardinal every day and wait. The cardinal always accepted the challenge. He’d come charging out of the tree, wings thundering and beak clacking, and he would lay into his enemy with such ire that we could hear the commotion from inside the house.
Who was this great adversary? Who kept him relentlessly locked in combat, forcing him to defend what was rightfully his?
His own reflection. In our van window.
That cardinal spent the entire summer kerfuffling with himself. Even when we moved the van to the other side of the house, he was so committed to his cause that I was afraid he would eventually either break the van window or die of stress and exhaustion.
* * *
This year we had two male robins who apparently had a score to settle. Every day during nesting season, they woke up angry in the morning and took it out on each other all day long. For hours at a time, they chased each other around the yard at incredible speeds, diving and darting through the air and relieving each other of feathers every chance they got.
Since they both stayed in our yard all summer, I assume that means they both found a mate and had their little families. There’s certainly plenty of room for both of their nests and more than enough worms for all their youngsters. I tried to tell them it’s okay to share the territory, but I don’t think they could hear me over their own squawking.
What kind of silly creatures who have a good home, a family, and everything they need would still feel the need to nip at each other morning, noon, and night?
And what kind of bird brain would wear himself out fighting a battle with an enemy who really isn’t his enemy at all?