Those Darn Birds!

Barn swallows – the most annoying, maddening, frustrating, bird on the planet! I’m not telling you anything I haven’t yelled to their nasty, feathered faces as they’re dive-bombing my head.  

Why are they so annoying? Persistence with a capital P!  I’ve knocked down their ingenious, muddy little creations no fewer than 5 times and they just keep coming back for more.  They won’t stop and sooner or later I’m going to see the nest that got built in record time with new little maddening baby birds looking out at me, despite my best efforts to make them choose my neighbor’s house instead of mine.  We are at war.

Like precision jet fighters they swoop and attack the enemy – namely me – engaged in a dogfight that would rival any action thriller,  all in an effort to complete their mission. Build a nest, lay the eggs, hatch the young, then fly away.

On one hand, I want to catch the little buggers in a net and tell them THAT’S WHAT THEY GET FOR FLYING WITHIN  MILLIMETERS OF MY HEAD! On the other hand, I want to give up and just let them build the stupid nest because they have tried so hard.

Why do they act this way? Why don’t they take my not-so-subtle hints and go somewhere else? Because they are wired for their primary mission and they simply don’t care about anything that gets in their way.  They know the continuation of their species depends on the nest. They are single-minded little bird brains who will complete the mission or die trying – my words not theirs.

Here’s what I do know. While they make a mess building a nest, I make it bigger when I knock it down. When they are defending their turf – even though I own it – they are relentless in their efforts to distract and divert me – and I usually go away.  When they’ve made their nest successfully – from past experience when I lose – they quietly move on with their work.

As one who works in public education, I think there are lessons to be learned from the barn swallow – hard as that is for me to admit.  

  • Be relentless in our single pursuit – educating kids.
  • Don’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of the primary goal – helping kids succeed.
  • Do whatever it takes to defend the mission – don’t let anything or anyone destroy the end goal.
  • Treat education as if the continuation of the entire human race depends on it – because it does.
  • Never give up– no matter how much others make a mess of things along the way.
  • When the detractors retreat – quietly go about your business and nurture the young.
  • When it’s time – push the young out into the world and get ready to make a new nest – and expect similar battles to ensue.

Ultimately, I may not win this war because they are smart birds with a single mission and a great defense system. But I will have used their example of persistence to strengthen my own resolve in other areas – and then I’ll go sweep up the mud and grass on my cement – again!