Inspired by the Matisse exhibition, I cut out a bird shape from a black plastic bin liner. This was not a work of art in progress, but a desperate attempt to deter the crows, arriving in gangs daily to eat all the seed and frighten away the little birds.  This pretend crow, flapping with unnerving realism among the branches, has not fooled the real crows one bit.  The thing that works (temporarily) is rushing outside and yelling ‘Go away!’  They do usually fly off when they see my shape in the kitchen window, so perhaps what I need is a Matisse cut-out of me, pasted onto the glass, a stratagem Sherlock Holmes used once to fool Moriarty.  Was Moriarty of the corvid species I wonder? He had the same ruthlessness and jaunty air.

Where have these crows come from? I’ve never been troubled by them before this Spring. They’re cunning as well as determined: they post a lookout in the top branches of the plane tree, a spy who watches me fill the feeders before signalling to his pals to join him as soon as I’ve gone indoors.  I can’t afford to go on like this – bird food is too expensive!  My sister advised me to ask The Internet for advice – so I typed ‘I want to frighten the crows away from bird feeders’ into Google and discovered I am not alone – pages of advice, none of which (apart from shooting them, which I’m not at all likely to do) seems to be any use.

In the future, no-one is going to ask their mother for advice about anything; they’ll just ask the Great God of the Ether, The Internet, type in their question, and benefit (or not) from screeds of other people’s experiences.  There is a spurious sense of connectedness, as if all these others are potential friends with whom  you might now converse on terms of great intimacy, without ever meeting them or indeed knowing what they look like or how they behave.

They’re like characters in novels, but less predictable.  We enter their lives briefly and they enter ours – or seem to.  Sometimes this is entirely positive. When I looked up a medical condition to find out more there was a long trail of comments and contributions from friendly, helpful young women, sharing their experiences without inhibition, generously reassuring others.  This was in stark contrast to the crow-scarers, some of whom, let’s face it, did not take the problem entirely seriously. (Crows are intelligent, and deserve to be fed! Put poison down!  Don’t feed any birds! Shoot them! I’ll come and shoot them, just provide the bullets and a beer for me afterwards….) The internet also has a strange compulsion to take you to Amazon. A search for any implement, tool, furniture, clothing etc. leads you straight back to Amazon, like Alice Through the Looking Glass, not realising the world has been completely reversed, her feet inevitably carrying her up the garden path and back into the house, instead of out to the beautiful garden.

Despite these caveats, I’m considering referring all my problems to the internet from now on.  At least there’s the reassurance someone else is suffering just as you are.  Years ago, at a very low ebb, I read a novel by Michael Collins called ‘Lost Souls’.  The main character was having an even worse time than I was, and this was a great comfort.  I like the seeming connectedness of the internet, since it gives that same reassurance – someone else out there has suffered this too.  We can have all the solitude we want, yet never be alone.

You’re never alone with a bird feeder, though.  Miss Popularity, that’s me, in the Crow world.

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