Issue 15 – Building Attraction

Squawk! Titter, titter. Churreee! Their uncaged euphoria bursts through our open windows and the chatter continues as we sit over breakfast and coffee. Tools and planks lie scattered around us. We have nearly finished building the kitchen.

I ask you to make a birdhouse for our small garden.

Like this? you say. You draw a loose design with a contraband IKEA pencil.

No, the roof needs to be more pointy. We both laugh, because we’ve mated for life and share the same jokes.

We sit in our newly constructed river lounge and discuss what type of bird, exactly, we want to attract. It should tolerate human habitation, and it should eat aphids and caterpillars and other garden pests. I plug in these values into my smartphone’s iBird app and find titmouse, house sparrow, barn swallow and other synanthropes.

We decide we want a simple house, so you take out your tape measure and begin. Without thinking, I play some sample loops of bird calls. This lures the hummingbirds from their nests. Others follow –they crowd the ivy and thrum the thicket. A blackbird lands beside you and looks up with bright eyes. What are you building? she sings. Is it for me?