Living the expatriate life brings an intrinsic set of rewards for those who want the adventure: learning a new culture and language, seeing new places, eating new cuisine and making new friends. One disadvantage can be maintaining two residences. When you go away to live on a job and leave your house behind, Things can happen that you can't even begin to imagine while you are gone. Three years ago when we were in Australia a serious freeze burst a water pipe in the kitchen. The break wasn’t discovered until several days later by a previous caretaker and the entire ground floor, which was wood, had to be replaced in absentia. Water leaked from the ground floor into the basement and destroyed many of my husband’s tools.
Last week, we drove back to Denver from Santa Rosalia to smog the truck so we could renew the registration. For that, and I am having surgery on my shoulder for a bone spur which has given me bursitis. Spring is getting on here, the nights are cool but the days are warmer, albeit windy. The birds and the bees, but especially the birds, are getting into the act. We have sparrow nests on most roof corners under the Spanish tiles. Regrettably we have a resident Northern Flicker couple who have decided that they must live in our house or die. We had them last year too, but the cat wasn’t living in Mexico then and he would get up on the roof and startle them away. Good cat. I used to really like flickers before I knew them so well. They are handsome, rather shy solitary birds. One time I even rescued a damaged one from under a car where it was spinning about. When I took it to the bird rescue place they said it had probably ingested poison, and destroyed it.
Maybe that is why the flickers are destroying our house, but I think it is because they like the deep eaves and the soft Styrofoam that forms a crown molding under them. They like to peck it out in popcorn size pieces all over the yard and make a nice 4-inch diameter hole that goes in about 5 inches deep. When they discover it is blocked by metal and they can’t get in any further they think—so okay, that hole was a failure, let’s move over a foot a try a new one—hmm, same result! And so they tried again to the tune of 31 holes. We had the animal and pest control specialist out to stop the havoc before we got home and they hung these ugly pink plastic flags all over the stucco to frighten the birds off. It was $100 for the first flagging and then another $38 to move the ladder and put flags at another site. Although a BB gun might sound like a good answer, The Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects Northern flickers. When we arrived back in Denver there was no sign of them. The flickers seemed to have given up. Esperando spent a good two days climbing up and down a 24-foot ladder and hanging out windows from the second story to fill the holes with Great Stuff, an insulating foam sealant that squirts into a hole and expands. The next day he went back to all 31 holes and lopped off the overfill with a machete. Needless to say it makes me quite uncomfortable to watch all this, thinking of falling boys that dash their brains out.
Silly saps that we are, we went away to California for a week to go to a wedding leaving our filled holes behind! But it was a different story when I got home minus Esperando who was attending meetings in Vancouver. The moment I walked in the house they started undoing all Esperando’s work. They are pecking out the Great Stuff. I spend my days racing outside at the first sound of tapping to chase them off. The dog, who drove up with us caught on right away that everytime that certain noise starts we must run up the stairs and race out the balcony door. When the noise starts up and I leap up from my chair, he starts in with that hunting bark "ow, ow, ow" and throws all the carpets askew on the wooden floors in his eagerness to get up the stairs first. When I finally catch up to him and open the balcony door, we charge out onto the deck but no matter how I try to show him its the birds that are bothering me, he just can't get it, but stays right in front of me to trip over. Too bad he's not a bird dog! The flickers squawk and fly away but I can hear them making that noise, what Wikipedia describes as, “a sustained laugh, ki ki ki ki.” I know they are laughing at me.
All this white popcorn crap is spread all over the lawn and patio, blown about hither thither by the spring winds. Here you see some on our doormat.