Wes Craven's The Birds: Part 2

Just when you thought it was safe to refill your feeder…

It’s not widely known yet, but birds are infiltrating the world of humans at levels never before seen. This movement is not driven by preference for our company, but by a perception among birds that few other choices remain. Their habitats gobbled, unable to beat us, they have decided to join us. Literally.

Since birds are winged creatures, their first choice for reoccupying their turf was the landing fields of airports. This turned out to be a poor choice. Soon Canada geese were deciding that migration sucked and a year-round diet of LaGuardia grass made a lot more sense. Airport officials brought out the shotguns, which was also a bad idea, because angry birds can do a lot of damage. A mere dozen radicalized Canuck geese knocked a US Airways A320 into the Hudson, for instance, claiming they were sick and tired of dodging buckshot and weren’t going to take it anymore. Authorities just brought in more guns.

So war is not the answer, and the smarter birds knew it.

A forum of owls, parrots, and ravens sat down and worked out a much more subtle plan. A stealth response. It goes by the acronym U.Y.B., which stands for “Under Your Beak.” Forget the out-of-doors, they posited. Invade the indoors. Just don’t get noticed.

I’ll give you an example how this works.

Last week at Boston Logan International, while waiting for a Cape Air flight back to the Vineyard, I happened to see a woodpecker, a blue jay, and an Arctic tern walk into a bar. If they had flown in, many people would have spotted them. But they just sauntered in, like businessmen killing time between flights. No one noticed.

I crept closer and watched. The three hopped up on a bar stool, bold as brass.

“Where’s the bar tender?” the woodpecker punned in a perfect Boston accent. “I’ll have a Grasshopper,” rasped the jay. “What’s the house specialty?” the tern asked. The barkeep, who I noticed was actually a crow disguised by a fake mustache fashioned from bar straws, rattled off: “Folks like our Fluffy Ducks or Yellow Birds – or Duck Farts, if you like coffee drinks.”

The tern made a face. “Sex on the Beach,” he said with a decidedly high-flown air, eyeing the funky Audubon prints on the wall. “I have so many miles, I could be in the first-class lounge,” he muttered to his friends.

“If you don’t like it here, go back where you came from,” the crow grumbled.

“Well, that would depend on the time of the year,” the tern said. “I winter in Antarctica and summer in the Arctic – over fifty thousand migratory air miles a year. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m coming or going.”

The bartender was impressed. “That’s a lot of miles.”

“We live to be twenty,” the tern said. “I’ll log a million and a half before I croak. That’s why I can afford to fly first class.”

“Wait a minute,” the crow said. “You take planes to migrate?”

“They’re a lot faster, and I get time to have a drink with friends. Just hop into the wheel wells before they take off, and hop out at the other end.”

“Got any of those salted slugs?” the woodpecker asked. The bartender slid a bowl over. “How about that Grasshopper?” the jay grumbled. The bartender put down a shot glass with a big green jumper upended in it. The jay tossed it down in one gulp and ordered another. “Those hops are fresh.”

By this time I had slipped into the bar, checking it out more closely.

There were a lot of humans there, but none seemed to be bothered by the birds. And the extraordinary thing was, there were a lot of birds there too. At the end of the bar sat an old pirate, and he had a huge gray parrot on his shoulder, munching crackers and sipping grog. Over at a table, two little old ladies were watching a bunch of rowdy sparrows gulp their Long Island Iced Teas, and in the back, out of sight of most, two pilots were going over a flight chart with a seasoned-looking albatross.

“Shorter to go this way,” I heard the big bird say, and it stretched out its six-foot wings to snag a passing waitress. “I’ll have another stein of squid juice, please.”

“That’ll be your third,” the waitress warned.

“I’m just the navigator,” said the albatross. The pilots didn’t object, so the waitress went off to fetch another.

It was about this time that I noticed that the pilots hadn’t moved at all. In fact, neither had the little old ladies or the pirate. I looked more closely. They were, each and every one of them, cleverly stuffed! Beards for the birds, so to speak. With them there, the birds could enjoy their drinks and munchies undisturbed.

Just about that time the bartender tapped me on the shoulder.

A bit startled, I said, “I’ll have a Sam Adams.” But he just shook his head.

“See that sign up there?”

I turned and looked where he pointed. It was a posted notice in neat black and white:


“Don’t make me get the shotgun,” he said.


This article is part of an eight-part series Wes Craven produced for Martha's Vineyard Magazine. Click here to read the entire saga of the filmmaker’s adventures with his avian neighbors.