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The Bird

There is a bird who lives in our backyard that has been a nuisance for the last three years.

For starters, I don't even know what this bird is. No clue. I tried to Google it using terms like "bird with annoying screech" and "kicks up dirt and leaves scrounging for bugs and worms." Those searches didn't work. Weird.

From Google, I received names like finches and woodpeckers, shrikes, and larks. If I could take a picture of the bird, I'd post it so you could see this miscreant in action. But, he's too fast for me. So, I'm no help there. Nor is he. This bird has a black head, and white body, with red on its wings. He’s quite beautiful in spite of his annoying personality  

The good news about researching local "Sacramento birds" is that I now know the identifying name of our resident owl. It's a Western Screech Owl. Yes, we have a resident owl. This adorable owl has made a home out of our old cable dish (and accouterments) that we had planned on taking out, just outside our bedroom second-floor window last year. 

Realizing it was a new home for our fellow owl (after my husband nearly fell off his ladder noting two large eyes staring back at him) we left the unsightly cable dish. And it's worth it. Not everyone can say they have a pet owl.

I often wonder why the pet owl doesn't take out the nuisance bird, but maybe they're friends.

As for our annoying unidentified bird, while its squawk isn't great, it's something I can manage. What I can't stand is his way of clawing dirt, leaves, sticks, and outside detritus onto the pathways and patios while he searches for food. 

I realize this is how he's made. It's actually quite the feat: he jumps up and kicks the leaves and dirt out from under him and makes new fresh ground available for him to search for more food. Hop after hop after hop. 

It's genius level, actually. And the more I think about what he does, the more I realize he might just be more than a smidge smarter than me.

However, every time he does this kick-action effect, he leaves a trail of debris in his wake. Just a quick walk around the perimeter of the backyard, and I know he's been at it again. Each time, I clean up his mess by sweeping all of it back where he got it. As long as it's off the patio, and off the walkways, I can work with him.

If he could just kick his debris within the debris, you know. Or maybe even scootch the material back when he's done looking for food -- back to where he got it from. But no. He's only thinking of himself.

For three years, I've swept all of his antics back into the yard off the sidewalks and patio. Three years. That's a lot of time with me doing the same stupid thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Then yesterday it hit me: Why don't I take the debris of leaves, dirt, rocks, and twigs and sweep them up into a pile and discard that pile into my green waste can? That way, the material is gone, and he can't dig it back up again.

Maybe, just maybe, he's actually showing me areas of my yard that could use a little cleaning. Maybe he's actually making it easier for me to clean my gardens. Maybe he was trying to talk to me all this time and I wasn’t listening.

My biggest question is: Why didn't I think of this before? And more importantly: Why did it take me three years to do things my way, the same way, thinking it would solve my problem?

Sometimes, the answer to our problems is right inside of the problem. It's the Occam's Razor effect: where the obvious, simplest answer is the answer. To solve my problem, all I had to do was just use what the bird was giving me as the answer to my problem.


So, has it worked? Yes. While the bird still screeches out my window and still prowls around the bushes, bark, dirt, and leaves; while he still kicks up a mess every morning and afternoon, the messes are less frequent and far smaller. 

I find myself liking this little "nuisance" now. He’s kind of my cleaner friend. He's someone telling me, “This side of the yard is a mess” and “Why are you sweeping this stuff back? Put it in the green waste bin already!” 

This little bird has taught me to think inside the box. To work with what's been given to me… no matter had annoying it is.

Lesson learned.