Dear Bohemian Waxwings,
Your public drunkenness has become a problem for me, and it’s time we had a chat.
Let me start by saying I’ve done a lot to accommodate your lifestyle. When you arrive en mass in late fall and start defecating berries all over my car, do I hack down the mountain ash tree overlooking my parking stall? No. Maybe I should, though, because apparently at the peak of your fruit gobbling, you guys are torpedo-pooping every four minutes.
I tolerate this because you bring a welcome heartiness and brush of colour to our winter landscape, and also because no one expects your small brains to comprehend the cost of auto-body paint. I also understand that rotting fruit is rich in sugar, but not so much in other nutrients, so you really need to pack it in to get what you need. You’re just trying to make a living in this, the southern reaches of your range. It certainly can’t be easy on those -30 C days.
The problem is, that some of the berries you are scarfing down are fermenting—producing ethanol that you and I both know makes you a little loopy. Look, I’m not judging. Everyone wants to unwind with a little berry juice once in a while. But there’s a limit, and sucking it back until you can’t fly is way beyond it.
“But we’re birds,” you say, “we can’t metabolize ethanol!” Well, the jig is up. My sources tell me you have extra large livers evolved expressly for the purpose of breaking down booze. Pound for pound, you do it better than us! You just need to cut back a few hundred berries, that’s all.
What’s that? You’re not hurting anyone? It’s so like you to not consider the collateral damage of your drunken escapades. Besides needlessly breaking your own necks, you seem to manage to injure yourselves repeatedly in front of my eight-year-old. How many times do we have to arrive home from school, only to witness you passed out in a yard sale of berry excrement and feathers, your breath shallow from intoxication?
Now, instead of doing homework and cooking dinner, we’re setting up an outdoor infirmary. A mobile waxwing hospital made of cardboard boxes and fluffy towels. Here, my son gently tends to you, tears wobbling on the brims of his eyes as he stands vigilant and hopes you “wake up.”
While I console the boy, I also have to guard you against my cat, a predator that has spent his entire outdoor life on a leash so that he doesn’t kill you and your mates. He stares unblinkingly at me, as if wondering why I can’t cut him this one break and let him at you. Then he stands on his hind legs inside the front door, his nose and paws pressed to the glass as he watches you trying to sober up on the front step.
I’m sure he fantasizes about lying under the kitchen window waiting for one of you dingbats to hit it and fall directly into his mouth. He is watching you, my little masked friends, and there may come a day when I am not there to protect you.
So you see, whether you intend it or not, your tendency to overindulge has consequences, and I for one would like you to get your feathery act together. To be plain, LAY OFF THE BOOZE BERRIES. This isn’t a college party at the mountain ash fraternity. For crying out loud, you are adults (I can tell by your plumage).