Friday, April 18, 2014

Narcissus the Robin

"You lookin' at my woman?"

With the coming of Spring (finally) we now have a pesky American robin in our yard, whom we call "Narcissus"(and occasionally "dumbass"), who constantly attacks our windows, or, rather, his reflection in these windows. For those unfamiliar with the myth, Narcissus was a youth who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water to the degree that he stared at himself until he dropped dead. In this case, the obsession is the same, but it's self-hatred that fuels the interest. He views himself as such an attractive rival for himself that he must put an end to things out of jealousy. 

Caravaggio's "Narcissus"
I did notice though that when another bird, a flicker, came near, he did not attack it but ran away. Also, since there are about five-hundred robins around the neighborhood that he is completely oblivious to, I do not believe he is spoiling for a fight. So, we have theorized that this bird has decided to take on the one adversary he knows he can defeat--himself--and is definitely not an alpha male. 

All day long, we hear Narcissus flapping against the glass, pecking and clawing with his feet. Pulling down the blinds doesn't deter him, and I don't want to put shiny metallic streamers or black plastic netting all over the outside of the glass, as has been suggested online, since I am terrified of seeing dumber-than-a-rock him hanging upside down or tangled up like an early Christmas ornament in it.

I have therefore settled on a two-prong approach of occasionally showing myself in the window and making wild gestures along with ignoring the ruckus. I've accepted his behavior as something even a human male might do and am therefore more tolerant. Man and bird do not differ that much. Man keeps away other males from his mate by placing a shiny ring on her finger, which, like the metallic tape I could hang in the window, is supposed to frighten other males away. Unfortunately for robins, they do not have enough lining in their nests to purchase a diamond encrusted bird band for their seasonal beloved, so they must go birdo-a-birdo instead, which can also happen among homo sapiens. 

P.S. We have also noted that Narcissus is alone. Perhaps it is just too early to find a mate or it is the fact that he spends so much time attacking our windows, he has none to meet a girl or make a decent nest. Yes, we found the nest. It is in the crotch of a birch tree. It, unfortunately, looks like crap, like the kind of nest a man who attacks his reflection all day would build. Well, Darwin is proven right again.