23 February 2011


For most of my life I have disliked birds — and I don’t mean pigeons, which everyone hates and is therefore not really worth writing about. No, I have a strange aversion to all of them, no matter how small, cute, or colorful might one particular species be or no matter how sweet is its song. To me they are dirty little jittery creatures whose erratic movements, airborne shitting and gnarly claws make me nervous and aggravate my own latent anxiety (concerning other things in the world, more important than birds.)

Until recently, I took my dislike of bird for granted. As a teenager I regularly observed my parents happily spying on backyard Hummingbirds with binoculars they’d bought for such sightings –they even shot at neighborhood cats who dared invade their beloved birds’ terrain with a BB gun — but I never questioned the source of the repugnance such behavior provoked. My loathing became so extreme that in my 20s and early 30s I frequently avoided late night parties and other outings, fearing the early-morning bird chirping that would inevitably accompany me home to bed, leaving me irritated and insomniac. I think it may have been when I moved to a city that was particularly overrun with crows — a horrific type of bird that, I was warned, displays aggression toward small dogs and shiny hair ornaments — that I experienced a flashback to the incident from my childhood that had spawned all this hatred.

From what I recall, sometime in 1977 a Blue Jay was found nesting in the magnolia tree in our front yard. I was six years old and I liked animals and driven by the normal curiosity of a child responding to the presence of wildlife in an otherwise sterile suburban environment, I must have gotten too close to the baby birds. The protective mother responded appropriately and I was punished with a good pecking to the head which according to my mother (who is prone to exaggeration) left a sizeable hole. I don’t remember the actual attack –I must have blocked it out of my memory forever — but I do retain a fairly concrete image in my mind of a group of neighborhood friends, along with my brother and mother, staring in awe at the resulting wound (made more traumatic by the fact that I never actually saw it).

I guess I never forgave that Blue Jay and it’s not surprising given that it is my nature to hold grudges. I tried to overcome (or simply deny) my bitterness toward birds during a brief affair I had in early 2008 with an avian biologist who quickly and unceremoniously dumped me for no good reason. It only made me hate birds that much more,

Michèle Faguet

Michèle Faguet

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