Is there anything more surprising than a bird where a bird should not be?
Take the time I found a fat pigeon in the hall, for example. Surprised? I’ll say. It was pootling around, pecking at bits of fluff. It must have walked in through the open back door, and come right through the house to the front. I backed cautiously into the kitchen, as it regarded me suspiciously, head on one side, cooing.
I climbed out of the kitchen window and re-entered the house through the front door, effectively cornering it behind the door. I was 7 months pregnant, and the window box was never quite the same again, but that was simply collateral damage.
I gathered up the pigeon in a coat – surprisingly heavy and very alive – and carried it out onto the street. Away it went at last, flapping and cooing.
Then there was the robin in the living room. Poor wee thing – terrified and panicky – it flew into the window, fell to the floor, and hopped crazily under the sofa. I ran out onto the street for help. The postman, who was passing at the time, took the other end of the sofa and the robin staggered out, and… straight through the front door. The postman and I high-fived (we actually did!).
And last week, there was a dead crow on the pavement. I scooped it onto a piece of cardboard and slid it over the fence – whooomph – into a heap of leaves on the railway siding. It was huge, and only had one eye; a fallen warrior from some ancient battle. But it felt quite different close up – soft and downy – and vulnerable. The weight of its beak pulled its head down onto its breast in a final lament.
Just this morning, at 7am, a dearly departed thrush lay dead on the back doormat, wrinkled and ruffled, its feathers swirling all over the kitchen. The cats sat one on each side, waiting for applause. Alex dealt with the body, and in my pyjamas, I fetched the hoover. Those pesky cats – Natural born killers! Fearsome predators! – are petrified of the hoover, so I chased them round the kitchen with it, their claws scrabbling for purchase on the tiles.
It makes me sad when they kill birds.
If only I could disabuse the rest of the world of its murderous intent by waving the hoover around.