Like the quolls living under our house, the sparrows had to go. They were starting up before dawn, while we were still asleep, and well before our rooster had even stirred in the chook house. Their chirping and frenzied activity under our eave was driving me to despair.
To get to the heart of the problem, I’d have to lug a ladder onto the roof, negotiate a short tricky walk along a narrow ledge and then climb the ladder again to where the sparrows were billeted. Protected from the wind and rain and with clear views of any predators, it was a perfect place to set up house. But the problem was that this veritable avian aerodrome was right outside our bedroom window.
Something had to give. With apologies to Bear Grylls, my man versus sparrow moment had finally arrived. Was I up to the challenge? Could I fix it?
With my fear of heights and average woodwork skills, I wasn’t looking forward to my Bob the Builder moment in the sun. Call it male pride or something along those lines but I sure as hell didn’t want to pay a tradie to fix something that I probably could do myself. I guess I’d been simply hoping the problem would just magically take care of itself.
Dealing with the sparrows had been on my list for longer than I care to acknowledge. In fairness, my wife, an even lighter sleeper than I, had shown remarkable forbearance with my tardy response. But after two lengthy breeding seasons and with another about to kick off, I could sense her patience was beginning to fray.
Of course I had no qualms about dislodging them. After all, sparrows are not well regarded. When one collided with our bedroom window recently and it lay lifeless on the roof, I felt no regret. Despite all those positive references to sparrows in the New Testament, they occupy an equal lowly ranking with that of mynas or plovers. For some reason it’s the raptors we admire; which, given they tear other birds apart, is a little odd.
So one morning recently, with some trepidation, I headed up to the roof with my tape, pen and paper and I worked out what I needed to buy to put an end to the problem.
After a trip to the local hardware store, where I bought enough treated pine to do the job, I set to blocking off all the gaps under the eave. To my surprise, by late afternoon I hadn’t fallen through any of the sheets of laser light and the job was done. The bewildered birds were orbiting in endless frantic formations and wondering what had become of their favourite resting place.
Our early mornings are now blissfully quiet. Well, relatively quiet; there’s always the occasional raucous kookaburra or cockatoo announcing their arrival. We are living in rural Tasmania after all. But the birdsong is generally muted and our unequal truce with the sparrows appears to be holding.
Our rooster now has centre stage all to himself. Emboldened by my victory over the sparrows, he’d do well though, not too get too carried away. So he would.
*Philip Lynch ‘more or less grew up in rural Ireland. And. after too many years in Melbourne, I finally finally made it to Tasmania five years ago’. Philip works as a nurse. The Irish Times has published some of his emigration pieces.