Routine is something that many PCVs come to depend on, living in a strange country with unfamiliar people and culture, being able to count on something is a small thing that really means a lot to many of us. The birds that live near my house also apparently value routine. Their routine involved coming to the windows on either side of my bed at about 6:30 in the morning and proceeding to flutter and peck loudly on the window pretty consistently until about 4 in the afternoon. This not only left my sill covered in poo but it also left me feeling quite angry that my routine of sleeping until my alarm goes off was broken. I’m not sure why the birds do this instead of say, searching for food to eat at some point during the day, maybe fighting with one’s reflection in glass is more important than eating to these birds. I tried to get them to stop by using a piece of duct tape to suggest that the window a shiny surface and not their mortal enemy but they just used that as a new perch from which to launch their attacks. I also tried draping the decorative iron bars in cassette tape – a remedy told to me by another PCV. Farmers put it in the fields sometimes to deter birds from eating the seeds or crops. And though I was careful to pick out the absolute worst tapes from the regional house I guess it is the sound the tape makes in the wind that birds don’t like, and not as my host mother suggested, the music on the tapes. The tape did not even phase the birds though I got some strange looks from my neighbours when decorating in this strange new style.
I was at wit’s end and my mind had been drifting toward murder whether by spraying the culprits with insecticide or lacing some seed with rat poison, I was fed up and really tired. Finally a friend suggested what I should’ve thought about long ago, thorny branches do a good job keeping animals away from other things, why not my window? Well, it appears to be working pretty well. Not to be easily discouraged, the birds continue to come and peck at the window but now they also stab themselves on the thorns so the pecking isn’t nearly as frequent. I have also seen them trying with all their might to pull the branches off the sill which tells me that their routine really means a lot to them and they won’t go down without a fight. With an equal stubbornness about my sleep and an endless supply of kids to run and get me thorny branches, I feel confident that I will win this battle.