Blackbird on the Wire

One of the great places about the place I live is that, while I’m technically in a city, I’m also right next to a kind of pocket countryside. My neighbourhood is full of animals, both domestic and wild. There are a lot of wild birds in the area, and if I have my window open, I can wake up to birdsong.

A few weeks ago, however, I started waking up not to birdsong, but to this:

The video doesn’t do it justice. The noise is like a nail being hammered directly into your ears, and it can go on for up to three hours. I’ve heard from knowledgeable people that the sound this blackbird is making is a distress call, which begs the question – what is making it distressed for THREE SOLID HOURS, and why doesn’t it just FLY THE HELL AWAY?

I tried shutting the window, but this all took place during the recent heatwave, and sleeping with the window closed meant a night of feeling like I was trapped in a particularly large oven. Besides, this blackbird’s chirp can’t be defeated by double glazing.

I was getting desperate, so I resorted to the only thing I could think of – throwing stuff. Specifically, potatoes.

Potatoes seemed to make sense. They’re biodegradable, they’re something I wouldn’t miss (unlike my books or my little owl figurine), and they’re very good for throwing. I got into the habit of keeping a potato on the windowsill in case of blackbird-related emergencies. I referred to it as ‘my wanging potato’, which had the added bonus of making my boyfriend dissolve into fits of giggles whenever I said it.

Sadly, there was one drawback of the potato technique, and that is that I can’t throw for toffee. (Or for chips). I threw a grand total of three potatoes at the blackbird, and none of them went anywhere near the little pest.

But the blackbird took offence nonetheless. I started seeing, not just one, but two of them in the tree. And another on the roof, peering down at me. The distress calls started happening in double- and triple-time, and no amount of potatoes could make them stop.

I was looking up everything from fake plastic falcons to a laser-guided bird-scarer worthy of a supervillain when, for no apparent reason, the noises stopped. I haven’t heard the blackbirds in a couple of weeks.

I would relax. I would say it’s over. But I can’t help thinking that they’re planning something. I’m sure I haven’t heard the last of them yet.


About Alice Nuttall

Alice Nuttall is a caffeine-guzzling knitter who divides her time between Oxford and the various worlds in her head. She is the author of a YA fantasy novel, Spider Circus, and three webcomics, Footloose, Cherry, and Black Market Magic, as well as several short stories.
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