Learning Zen From a Bird

Several weeks ago, I wrote about a female cardinal attacking the window of my office, and how I had successfully stopped the attacks by removing a mobile hanging in the window. Silly me! I hadn’t stopped the attacks at all. NOTHING has stopped them, not even a scary photo of an owl taped to the glass. She begins every day by pecking at the glass while the male bird sits on a bush and watches. I went online to research cardinal neuroses and discovered that it’s a common problem. According to the experts, the behavior may continue for months. If you stop them from banging into one window in your house, they’ll just find another one and attack it.

At first I was filled with anxious compassion for my bird. I worried she would split her beak on the glass. I was sure she had a terrible headache every day from the jolts she gave herself. But after awhile the incessant pecking noise annoyed me so much that I was the one getting headaches, not her. When I analyzed my own responses, they boiled down to disappointment that such a gorgeous creature would do such a dumb thing. I felt disillusioned with nature. I expect four-legged and winged beings to have more sense than humans, and I didn’t like the idea that female birds could be as obstinately idiotic as female humans. I finally got over that, but the noise continued to make me tense.

Now I’m trying a new Zen-like tack. I’m focusing on the silence between the clicks instead of on the clicks. It’s hard to do because there’s no definite rhythm, but I’m getting the hang of going into the spaces and pulling out when her beak hits the glass. It stops my tension and it’s sort of a fun exercise. I think I’ll try that technique with other annoying things. Just remove my attention from the annoying moments and focus on the spaces in between.


3 thoughts on “Learning Zen From a Bird

  1. She wants in. My mother-in-law had an Oriole that did the same thing. He eventually stopped after she kept the blinds closed for a bit

  2. Such wisdom, the silence between the noise. The other option would be classical music loud enough to cover it — I used to try that with my neighbors’ loud music before I moved to this quieter house. I wonder if part of your annoyance is worry for the bird, hard to turn off . . . possibly part of the reason that people are so annoyed when they hear a baby crying, even when it isn’t very loud.

  3. I, too, had a cardinal slamming into my Florida Room door. Once a sparrow flew into it so hard that it knocked itself out and lay on the deck motionless for ten minutes before it finally flew away. I solved the problem by hanging a large Boston fern in front of the door. I not only had the benefit of seeing the beautiful fern from inside, but the door attacks stopped.

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