Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beating Around The Bush

One morning in the not-so-distant past, I was awakened at 5:30 a.m. by the most invasive bird’s song.  Some little bird, who had nested overnight in our front shrub, decided to announce the arrival of a new day, although it wasn’t even daytime yet.

I lay in bed, trying to ignore the trills and chirps of the boisterous birdie, but I began to sense a sinister plot.  We have a love-hate relationship with the birds.  We have a bird feeder out front, so we can view the lovely cardinals and doves.  Gene puts food out in the backyard during the winter for the birds, so they won't starve.  I thrill at the sound of a red-bellied woodpecker working on a tree trunk. But, the grackles poop all over our cars and deck. And, now it was The Austin City Bird Singing Festival at 5:30 a.m. in my front yard.  Isn't there an ordinance against that?!

My need to sleep would not be silenced by the sound. After about 5 minutes, I jolted myself out of bed, pillow in hand, and marched out the front door.  In the dark in my pajamas, I began to beat the shrub with my pillow.  The bird stopped singing.  I had no thought for the condition of the bird’s health, only that the sound would cease.

I returned to bed and snoozed until the sun had risen and it was truly time to get up. My husband thought it was funny that I was so grumpy and insistent to have my early morning hours of slumber.
Before dawn the next day, my little early morning intruder blasted more alarming birdsong out his little beak.  This time, my husband heard it and got up to see what all the ruckus was about.  The first thing Gene did was to turn off the yellow porch light. 

The singing immediately stopped.  Chuckling, Gene returned to bed and told me the bird must’ve thought our porch light was the sun. Turn out the light, the party’s over!

By the way, beating the bird in the bush is not the same thing as beating around the bush. One is much more direct than the other. The likely origin of the phrase, beat around the bush, is derived from early hunting techniques in which unarmed men would walk around the forest beating tree branches and making noise, so as to flush out the prey from the bush. This allowed the hunters to avoid directly approaching the game. The technique was most often used in boar and bird hunting. For boar hunting, this was done primarily as a safety measure due to the razor sharp tusks and the likelihood of a boar charging a hunter. In bird hunting this was to scare the birds from their cover so that hunters could shoot them easily.

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” –Miguel Cervantes

"A bird in hand is a certainty, but a bird in the bush may sing.” –Bret Harte

“A singing bird in the bush before dawn may never sing again.” –Grayson Nelson

At My House, the Early Bird Gets the Boot, Y’all!

Artist Credits (in order of appearance):
Bird in the Bush - Barbara York
Bird Flu - Unknown
Girl Screaming with Birds - Unknown
Sleeping Bird Red - Kimberly Palencia
Bird in Bush - Margaret Fane
Bird in Deep Night - Kelly Riccetti
Cat with Dead Bird - Tex Norman


  1. I know what is that!! I have a owl some where in the back yard...I mean in the mega-park behind of my house and really I don't think that I'm going to hunt it! hope that he gets tire of to live in the area and one day he'll move. :)

  2. Send that owl over to my house, Cely! It is a fact that owls will scare away the grackles. I'd rather listen to some hooting than keep putting up with the pooping on my car. Of course, what I didn't consider is how much bigger an owl is than a grackle....but, hey, there'd only be one owl versus gobs of grackles. We may install an owl house in the big tree out front and see what happens.