Not For The Birds: A Troubling Timeline

Mrs. G. does not hate birds. She adores seeing them flit about the lawn or soar above the trees. She admires them warbling and chattering atop her birdfeeders. Mrs. G. likes birds in their place, their bird place, way up there, so they can't fuck with her.

That's right, Mrs. G. has a long history of bird harrassment, all out bird commotion really, and it commenced in...

1971: Mrs. G. has written extensively about the time she visited Busch Gardens when she was four-years-old and during a seemingly innocent photo op, a giant cockatoo flicked its freakish black tongue, snatched her finger between its beak and proceeded to crush it like a Brazil nut.


1973-1977: Mrs. G's mother, a clever and thrifty decorator, decided to wallpaper the bathroom with the pages of Richard Bach's novella Jonathon Livingston Seagull, the tale of a nonconformist seagull who seeks a "higher plane of existence." For four years Mrs. G. sat on the pot reading passages like:

Why, Jon, why?” His mother asked. “Why is it so hard to be like the rest of the flock, Jon? Why can’t you leave low flying to the pelicans, the albatross? Why don’t you eat? Jon, you are bone and feathers!

I don’t mind being bone and feathers, Mum. I just want to know what I can do in the air and what I can’t, that’s all. I just want to know.


1978: Mrs. G's mother took her (age 11) to a Hitchcock double feature of The Birds and Psycho. The bad news is Mrs. G. was so traumatized by the savage, eye pecking, murderous birds she is fairly certain she entered some sort of fugue state because she has no memory of the second feature. Nada. Zip. The good news is when her mother took her six months later to a double feature of The Godfather I and II, the horse head scene was a walk in the park.


 1983: Some friends in high school threw Mrs. G. a super surprise party for her sixteenth birthday. The surprise part was ruined because her friend Darren told her about it as he was driving her to the surprise party. The excitement was too much for him. The super part was ruined because Mrs. G. had to fake being surprised and because Tara and Lisa (two girls who didn't even pretend to like Mrs. G. so the party must have been the only thing going on in Tigard, Oregon that Saturday night) went in together and bought Mrs. G. a pair of finches, which they presented to her in a box  with pencil holes stabbed in the sides of it. One bird died before Mrs. G. could purchase a cage the following day, the other shortly after.


1988: Mrs. G. was living in a duplex in Northwest Portland. Her neighbor was an attractive fellow named Eric who acted in local commercials. Mrs. G. frequently lingered on their shared stoop hoping to get his attention. He was politely indifferent, but Mrs. G. never gave up hope on a potential liason until he came upon her one afternoon cleaning up the maxi-pads the neighborhood crows had looted from their shared garbage can and shredded all over the sidewalk in front of their place. 


1993: Mrs. G. exited her car and was walking to the entrance of a Blockbuster video store. Six feet from the door a Blue Jay came out of nowhere and dive bombed her head. Its beak made contact with her skull. She screamed, covered her vulnerable eyeballs and ran inside the store. When she told the cashier what happened, he assured her it was no big deal. "It's been happening all week. Mama Bird's just protecting her nest," he shrugged. "When you leave just run really fast to your car." When Mrs. G. left, she did run really fast to her car (zig zaggedy to throw the bird farther off her trail) and then began renting her movies at Hollywood Video.


2001: One dark and stormy night around 1:00am, Mrs. G's kids were on a sleepover when she woke up to a strange sound coming out of her daughter's room. Mrs. G. went in and discovered her daughter's cockatiel Herman lying on the floor of his cage, squawking. She screamed for Mr. G. to wake up because there was a BIRD EMERGENCY. She took Herman out of the cage and cradled him in her hands. One side of his body seemed to be paralyzed, his left eye was droopy. Mr. G. stumbled into the bedroom and offered some Grade A medical advice: Just put him back in his cage and let's see how he is in the morning. Maybe he's just tired. Mrs. G. held him, stroked him, prayed over him, sang to him, walked him up and down the hall begging him to hang on until her daughter came home in the morning. Herman died ninety minutes later. Mrs. G. is still pissed at him.


2004: A rooster attacked Mrs. G. at a petting zoo. The petting zoo person admonished her for trying to kick it.


2011: Mrs. G. paid full price for bird wall decals the week Portlandia's Put a Bird on It episode aired. When she returned the decals a week later the store would only refund the current sale price.


Every Other Monday For Ten Months: Mrs. G. arrives ten minutes before her therapy appointment and sits in counselor's waiting room enjoying the soothing fountain, cataloguing her personal glitches and listening to the piped in sounds of bird song warbling from the speakers. Mrs. G's therapist (a wonderful woman with a healthy sense of humor) is familiar with this blog and already happened upon the post about SARK, stuffed animals and shopping for therapists so Mrs. G. is going to go easy on the ird-bay ashing-bay. But Mrs. G. will tell you that as she sits and listens to the artificial chirps and twills of her winged brethren, she breathes deeply to diminish her flapping agitation and silently solicits: Abilify me, St. Francis, Abilify me.


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (45)

OK I can barely breathe because I have a cold and I can't stop laughing and then coughing over and over again! First, we come from the same hood except I vacated NW for the hippie-esque and funky Hawthorne district in 1988. Yo, I was not invited to the surprise party despite living just off Murray road on a u-pick farm...pretty close to Tigard. This post is hysterical and reminded me of my favorite ever trip to the zoo here. We took a cruise on the zoo train which somehow enraged a small bird who kept dive bombing our group (brothers and my father)- over and over again, this little bird would fly into the train and flitter about screaming at us. In was freaked out. My father kept telling us not to worry about the bird but I knew something terrible would happen and told him so. As we exited the train at the Rose Garden that bird crapped all over my father's head. I could not stop laughing then either. I adore birds.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterk

I'm fine with most birds, except those black swans, they scare the shit outta me. Saw one attack my friends dad when I was little.
You might like this :-)

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHay

Witness! I hear you Mrs G. There is a gang (no really a gang, they wear 'colours' and everything.) of big fat wood pigeons that hang around my house stalking me. I'm buggered if I know what I ever did to piss them off but they scare the crap out of me.

A few years back on a really hot day a pigeon walked up the shared drive and sat in front of my gate. ALL DAY. In the sun just sat there and watched my gate. As the sun went overhead he got more and more sick looking. I was trapped bc I couldn't get the car out he was right smack bang inthemiddle of the drive (did I mention he was staring into my garden?). There was nothing for it my son was going to have to spend the night at school bc I was stuck.

Fortunately by crunch time the evil pigeon had moved his seemingly near death self off to one side and I was able to manouveur my car out onto the road. Coming home I warned my boy about the probability of a gangland pigeon corpse in the drive and as we drove down the lane we saw said Mafiosi bird walking away from us toward the main road.

Bastard things.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertrash

I am filing this under one of my favorite G. posts ever. Yep, you're a asshole if you don't cherish the feathery little buggers. Who can blame you for kicking an attacking rooster!!

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJo

OH.....MY.....God! I haven't ever had a bird attack me, but I have a thing about big birds like crows, they just creep me out. A large bird of prey once eyeballed my son and I when he was small and I was certain he had a look of pure bird evil that meant us harm; it was WEIRD, he followed us!! Had several sparrows fly into the house and flap around like freakishly possessed wind up toys once and I had visions of re enacting a scene from "The Birds". And there was one time when all the stars must have aligned at just the right moment and several flew into my car as I was cruising along windows open, music blaring. My husband thought I had lost my mind as I whipped that car to the side of the road, flung open the door and jumped out screaming..."Ewww eww EWWWWW BIRDS in the car...." And I HATE when I ride my bike and there is a dead bird lying in the road, it's eye seeming to follow you wherever you go...Ewwwwwwwwww! Yeah, I won't be putting a bird on ANYTHING anytime soon! Strange, as we have bird feeders all over to feed the little ones which I love, I am ashamed to admit I must have some sort of "large bird bigotry" but EWWWWWWW , I just can't go there!!! Mrs G I feel your pain!

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbramble

You are twisted in all the right ways! Sweet Mrs. G. holds grudges against birds who fuck with her. I'll be smiling all day about this one.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

"The Birds" scarred me too! I just see a beady eyed crow and get nervous. We used to have a treasured copy of Jonathon L. Seagull on our Early American coffee table.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh Ann

One of our favorite family stories is the time my parents took myself, my 3yo old son, and 4yo niece to one of those drive through "safaries" where you have a food bucket and the wildlife will come up to your car window and graze. We drove over the cattle guard and were instantly mobbed by an aggressive order of ostriches reaching into the middle of the car to madly peck the food buckets. My niece and I climbed into my mom's lap so we were only occupying the far one fifth of the backseat, all while shrieking "Drive, Drive, DRIVE!!"

My dad sustained a significant peck mark on his arm and my son basically wet himself.

Now I'm wondering what it means that this is one of our favorite family stories.....

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnon for now

Amen! Once again I see that we are kindred spirits, as I too have multiple traumatic bird experiences and am no fan of our so-called fine feathered "friends."

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter*m*

Piped-in birdsong? What's that all about?

It's a damn good thing you like the new therapist or else I'd be strongly encouraging you to find a new one.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen on the Edge

Oh yes, I prefer them at a distance, too.

One time my family went to an indoor exhibit called Ocean Journey, before it went bankrupt. My youngest niece, probably 11-12 at the time, was the unfortunate victim of one of the birds flitting around inside the building: said bird shat on her jacket. She was so grossed out she could not bear to touch the jacket again, so I carried it the rest of the day for her. I believe it went into the Goodwill bag as soon as she got home...

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

My best friend had parakeets when we were growing up. I hated them with every ounce of my being. I've never told her. Ugly, smelly, noisy, crap-on-your-head creatures...

Also, if you have not read the Du Maurier story whence sprang the Hitchcock movie of the same name, I am sending it to you posthaste. It may be the best short story ever written and is WAY better than the movie. But you'll never look at a line of birds sitting on a telephone wire the same again.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersuburbancorrespondent

Okay, this was funny was hell, but whoa! You brave woman... you were able to not only withstand your daughter having a bird, but you actually touched it.

I'm good with the birds. I think that I'll have a talk with them on your behalf.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJodi Anderson

Mrs G,

I am so glad I am not alone. I was attacked in the San Diego Zoo by a bird in the walk thru bird cage. We had a lovely Canary in a cage and my Dad brought home a stray dog. Dog knocked over the bird cage about 10 minutes after being in the house- grabbed the bird, bolted out the front door and was never seen again. I thought finally I had out grown my bird issues, then a few years back we had a robin decide was trying to either kill or be attached to the members of my house hold. He would fling himself into the windows of our house whenever he could see one of us. then when he got tired- he would sit on the railing and stare at us, then lather rinse repeat the process. This went on all spring for 2 years running.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterklcrab

For a moment I thought I couldn't relate to your bird thing, but then the post-traumatic amnesia lifted for a moment to remind me of the time I was ambushed from behind by an angry turkey while walking down a hill with a basket of eggs stolen from his ladies. He must have had a hell of a running start down that hill because I went flying, along with all the eggs.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersusan

Rooster, I mean rooster. I wasn't collecting turkey eggs. :)

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersusan

Holy crap. This post just made my day. Sooo funny!

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen H

I love birds!

Except that time I got crapped on the head at the zoo by something freaking huge and my boyfriend laughed his freaking ass off. Some Mom with a wipe finally came over and helped me, she was laughing too. I was too tramatized to move or think to help myself.

Thanks for the laugh, although I still can't laugh about my experience. Too messed up on the head, I mean in the head.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLizzie

"Birds" scared the crapola out of me. When my beloved and I drove around Bodega Bay many moons ago I kept a watchful eye out for the nasty creatures.

Had a seagull crap on my head in Port Townsend. Had friends out visiting us and we had stopped for lunch and were wandering around this quaint little town on the Olympic peninsula. Out of the blue WHAP. Right on the noggin. Stinkin' stuff is like CEMENT. I washed out as much as I could in the restaurant's bathroom and then put up with nasty hair for the rest of the day. Could not wait to get off the ferry and drive home for a shower.

Thanks for the laughs, Mrs. G. This one is a classic.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter1Les

Mrs. G, delurking to say this post left me in stitches! This gal in Vermont loves you and will now look at her state bird the Hermit Thrush with contempt on your behalf.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNola

Oh, good Lord! Thank you for this post, Mrs. G.. It made my morning bearable.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy G. (no relation)

Mrs. G,

I wish I could tell you how much I enjoy your writing. Thanks for the laugh.


October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Generally I like birds, but there are flocks of wild turkeys around here that seem kinda menacing. "The Birds" scared me too.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteralison

OH MY GOD!!! That is my favorite Far Side ever!!! Seriously, I cut it out of the news paper when it first ran and still have it...low these many years ago. The Chicken of Depression just tickles my funny bone!

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessie - another one

Mrs. G, I heart you! This is one of your best posts ever!! It wasn't so much the movie, 'The Birds' that turned me off of the feathered creatures, it was a trip to the mall pet store in the early 80s that did it. The front display case was filled to the brim with parakeets and as I watched them, two were grooming each other and as God is my witness, it looked like one of them was pecking the other one's eyes out. I was freaked, and I tried to avoid birds from then on.

Wouldn't you know it, my husband fancies himself the bird whisperer, and he's had pet birds off and on throughout his life. We now have a pet parakeet, (re)Pete (the first Pete died), who despises the fact that my husband breathes the same air as he does, but for some reason LOVES me, the Anti-bird. When my mom was alive, she cared for (re)Pete, but as her mental health declined, she would often shout insults and threats at him, once, in front of my son, threatening to rip the bird's wings off if it didn't stop that damned chirping. Most days though, she would sit in front of his cage waiting to see if he would drink water, because she was convinced that he didn't drink and therefore was dehydrated. (re)Pete got the last laugh, he has outlived my mom and currently resides in my craft room where he's got a sweet set up with a space heater to keep him warm and NPR on the radio to keep him company when we're not around. His wings have remained intact.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKelley

I will forgive you Mrs. G, because you make me laugh, and God knows we all have our phobias, but I have to admit I love birds. Not all birds, mainly just parakeets and cockatiels. But despite being attacked once by a goose, straifed by a bluejay, and bombed more than once by a seagull while eating my lunch, I can count only 5 lonely years in my life when I haven't shared my home with a bird... although I admit I do have to put the cage in the basement sometimes when people visit.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLala

Birds are trouble, man. Especially the big ones. I'm talking about you, geese honking outside my window while undoubtedly covering the lawn in fecal material. Disgusting, loud, angry, territorial... I don't like geese. The poop. The hissing. No, no, no. Birds should stay where they belong - either in the sky, in the woods (wild turkeys are cool, and I don't even like bourbon), or on my dinner plate.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen the Enigma

I am fortunate to live close enough to the ocean to expect seagulls landing on my house. Most people don't like seagulls, but I love them and their mournful cries in the dawn light.

I don't have seagulls, I have half a dozen crows. I hate them. They scare away / drown out all the decent birds you (ok maybe not you) might want to wake up to and scream right outside our window.

I have never seen The Birds. I don't need to.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisse

I. Love. This.
And I hate birds, thanks to your tales of woe. Actually, I started hating birds when my childhood cat would bring them into the house half-dead. Then the swans in Germany that attacked my kids. And the Portlandia skit nailed it!

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren (formerly kcinnova)

Wow, trauma by bird! I just happened to post a sketch that includes a bird (tweet, tweet). Seriously, if your experiences had happened to be I wouldn't be including birds in my drawings.


October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDarla

I have a strange, baseless, extreme fear of birds. Put one in the same room with me and I will start screaming.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAll Adither

Question - Why am I unable to post?

Ahem. Second try. My friend Lorraine hates birds. She says they're really dinosaurs.

My husband, long ago, was walking across the UW campus one hungover morning. A huge crow perched on a lampost was loudly cawing, so my husband yelled "Fuck you!" at it, and kept walking. Seconds later, the crow hit him in the back of the head so hard he dropped his school books and other people rushed to his aid.

A few years back, there was a demented Oregon junco that spent hours pecking at the reflection of himself in the side mirror of our car parked in the driveway, dashing his beak against the glass.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Snow

"covered her vulnerable eyeballs " This made me LOL.

Other than the occasional seagull poopage, birds have been good to me. Maybe birds don't like to attack brunettes?

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercoffee yogurt

I think this has got to be one of the best posts ever! I really can't stand birds. My sister had these annoying parakeets when we were kids. She'd let them fly all over the house and they always pooped on MY stuff. They were just gross little things.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBecky in Upstate NY

I love/hate birds depending onthe breed and where they are. We had two cockatiels when our son was a baby and had to give them away so he wouldn't eat the poop/feather/seed dust under their cage. Those birds I didn't like. Outside I have a feeder and suet cage for the birds I do like. Also I feed the crows that come and beg for dog food in the mornings. My mother also feeds the crows. One summer when I was visiting we performed crude surgery on a crow flegdling who had managed to impale himself with his beak and could not eat or drink. I caught him, my mother held him and I cut through the skin to free his beak. He sat under a bush for a few hours and then ate some raw fish and drank some water before flying up to safety. That crow has come back to her yard for two years. Crows are interesting to me- they recognize people's faces and are able to tell their babies who you are as well. I have been dive- bombed by birds protecting territory and attacked by Sandhill cranes. They didn't like the color of my jacket. Lisa.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Oh Mrs G.! You are so funny and I am so glad you are posting again. Your blog is my number one favorite. Please be assured, I am not a crazed stalker, but I am sure we would be close friends if we were neighbors,

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkathleen

Du Maurier would have LOVED these, and would have been jealous of your clever, witty stories.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterracheld

Rapunzel has a pet bird. She wants to work with birds. I have told MM to think long and hard about his future!

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren (formerly kcinnova)

laughing like a crazy person at my office desk. send help. Eagles steal our freshly caught salmon if our backs are turned. durn scavengers.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAngAk

I really like birds, which is amazing when you consider several close encounters with Mad Emus I had as a child in Australian petting zoos. I don't know if they still let you in with the kangas and emus (and give you packets of potato chips - great emu bait) but they did then. I never watched The Birds because I figured I'd like to go on liking the little buggers.

What got me was the movie disclosure. Who takes an 11 year old to a Hitchcock double feature?? Especially The Birds and Psycho??? I was 30 before I watched Psycho and it still scared the crap outta me! I was scarred early on by The Fall of the House of Usher - I decided not to die because I'm afraid of being buried alive - so I can understand your dislike of The Feathery Ones.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBriget

"close Encounters with Mad Emus." Now that's a movie I'd watch.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Snow

Just the other day, at the lake by my house, I had to fill a young mother in on what those hideous geese would likely do to her adorable toddler with the fistful of bread. My kids and I once spent a good 45 minutes penned atop a picnic table after they cornered us.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenn @ Juggling Life

Brilliant! Better maxi pads than tampons, eh?

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSandy

Mrs. G. have you ever thought about stand-up comedy? I think you have the stuff! Fucking birds!!!!!

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

Oh do I hear you Mrs. G, I have a love-hate relationship with birds. I love watching birds at my feeders but when I was a kid, about 11, I was home alone and a starling came down our chimney and into the house and flew right at me. I ran into the bathroom and shut the door and spent the whole damn day in there because I was too scared to come out. I remember my parents coming home about 8 hours later and as my brave mom got the bird out of the house, my dad stood outside in the driveway with me and said "what's there to be afraid of?" Right dad.

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMIME

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>