Man's ingenuity never ceases to amaze me. For example, I recently learned that one way to manage human waste involves recycling it as fertilizer. Once reformulated, planes fly it over tree farms and do a dump.
I commend the civil engineer who devised this plan, and I thank my realtor, particularly on windy days, for not locating me near key targets.
One of the side effects of this process, besides the obvious, is that it attracts flocks of scavenger birds from all corners of the county. Maybe the smell lures them. Maybe they find it food worthy. At any rate, so many come that they begin roosting in neighborhoods, greatly alarming residents with small children.
How does one combat carnivorous collectors of carrion?
One friend casually mentioned the difficulty to a team of sharp shooters. Well, okay, really just a guy, and his eight year old daughter, with a couple of 16 gauge shotguns.
The following week, armed, and slightly dangerous, they stalked through her backyard seeking a quick kill.
Blam, blam, blam!
Nothing hit the ground but a squirrel caught in the crossfire.
The birds loped a little higher in the trees and looked at the pair with curiosity, while salivating over the rodent.
Quickly, the child's father designed a plan. He laid her on the ground in the open part of the yard, and instructed her in how to take on the shroud of rigor mortis. Then he crept into the cover of the azaleas, where he patiently waited for the buzzards to begin circling.
"Hold on, honey," he whispered loudly. "I think they've spotted you. Yep, they're starting to spiral. Be brave."
Still suspicious, however, the feathered foragers hung high on the air currents, out of range of the exterminators.
Seeing the apprehension of the prey, the courageous hunter hit upon an even better idea. Why not place the deceased squirrel on the chest of the young girl, to create an even more enticing smorgasbord?
And so, there lay the young thespian, doing her best impression of three-day-old road kill with a cherry on top.
Suddenly, the vultures developed an interest in the table spread and descended with great velocity. "Here they come, baby," shouted the dad. "Don't move until you see their beaks near your eyes." He trembled with excitement.
Well, about this time, my friend drove into her driveway. Getting out of her vehicle, she heard gunshots from her backyard and saw a figure doing a belly crawl through her pine island.
She hit the ground, until the fellow jumped up and identified himself. But before she recovered sufficiently to inquire into his intentions, his kid rounded the corner of the house at a quick clip, glancing behind herself, clutching the departed squirrel.
"Daddy, they got too close. I thought they would peck my eyes out," she said, as sort of an apology for leaving her live-bait post.
"How would a fur ball peck your eyes out? And why are you hunting it in my backyard?" My friend shook her head in exasperation.
They explained that the child used the dead animal to charm the buzzards.
"I don't think you want birds like that eating out of your hands," my pal advised.
"Oh, no ma'am. She played possum with it." He seemed a little confused, like he didn't understand why she wouldn't want him making bunkers with her crossties.
In the end, despite aggravation over attempted avian annihilation in her backyard, my friend reflected favorably on the advantages of living in a small town, where mere mention of a need motivates neighbors indeed.