It all began last March, when I was sitting at my computer in the kitchen.  I noticed this incessant tapping on one of my dining room windows.  Thump, thump, thump.  Thump.  Puzzled, I walked to my window and espied a male cardinal pecking at the glass.

I knew that male cardinals sometimes went a little crazy during mating season, trying to run off would-be competitors, even if they were only self-reflections.  But he didn’t let up.  He started about 6:30 every morning and stayed at it until about 2:30, after which he took a break or nap or something, then came back to plague me as I cooked dinner.  “What an idiot,” I thought.  He was driving me crazy.

A few weeks of relentless tapping went by and in desperation I sent out an email to a few friends who seemed to know how to solve such things.   “Help,” I wrote.  “There is a nutty cardinal constantly pecking at my window and making me nuts, not to mention soiling the glass.  Please send suggestions.  Banging on the window and yelling like a banshee do not help.  I’ve also already tried keeping the lights off in the room, so save your breath on that one.”

I got the best and most detailed ideas from my church friend Laura, who seemed to take the matter seriously and actually did some research. Her recommendations included decreasing the reflectivity of the windows with screens, soap, or vertical strips of tape, as well as suggestions to move any bird feeders or houseplants away from the window.  I also received several offers of fake owl loans, along with the advice to just sit back, relax, and wait until nesting season was over.

I opted for the screen approach, propping an old one against the outside of the dining room window.  There was, however, about a four-inch space at the top of the window that remained uncovered.  The damn bird just flew a bit higher and pecked there.  Sometimes I caught him simply perching atop the screen, calmly surveying his (my?) territory.  And the next thing I knew, the screen was lying flat on the ground.

Our surprisingly cold spring, followed by the deep heat of summer and its raucous thunder storms rarely deterred him.  Apparently neither rain, nor sleet, nor even hail can ever stop the cardinal male.

It’s almost Christmas and he’s still at it.  It couldn’t possibly be nesting season anymore.  I’d think his kids would have grown up and flown off to college by now.  But the truth of the matter is that I’ve gotten used to having a bright red bird constantly tapping, thumping, and pecking on my dining room window.  I never feel alone anymore while my husband’s off at work and my kids off at school.  The sound is actually a kind of comfort to me, an indication that someone else besides me is guarding the nest.   And I continue to marvel at one small bird’s indefatigable perseverance.

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Kathleen Brewin Lewis

Kathleen Brewin Lewis is a writer who was born and raised in Savannah, GA, but now lives with her husband and children in Atlanta.  She attended college at Wake Forest University and graduate school at Emory University and Kennesaw State University, where she received a Master of Arts in Professional Writing.  Her work has also appeared or is forthcoming in Weave literary magazine, The Red Clay Review, The Prose-Poem Project, Georgia Backroads magazine, and Bookideas.com, and she was a finalist in SmokeLong Quarterly's 30-Word Story Contest (Dec. 2010).  She is a contributing editor to the on-line journal Flycatcher:  A Journal of Native Imagination.  When she's not writing, she is cooking, running, reading, watching sports, or surfing the net. She really loves her family and friends.  And she wishes she were a better housekeeper.