A Bird for Joseph

Western Ag Vignettes

How little things count.

Published on: June 4, 2014

There is a luxury three-story birdhouse atop a pole out my window where the garden sits. Sometimes, when the sparrows are in the right mood, a couple moves in and settles on some eggs for  summer hatching. It is an exciting natural epic to enjoy.

This year, however, visiting birds just flew away, perhaps the neighborhood was not up to par (I must weed the garden soon). As a result, my six-year-old grandson, Joseph, isn't  happy.

"Why won't we have any little bird babies," he asks.  All I can say is that the mom and dad didn't want to build their nest here this year for some reason.

That doesn't go far with a first-grader, who takes it personally when little critters don't act like they do in the video cartoons. Birds should live in birdhouses.

I let it go until I saw him looking out the back window again and again, telling me birds were visiting the pole residence, but not staying.

The other night, when I was putting him in bed, he chatted about it incessantly. I realized he  had a problem with the empty nest syndrome – a bit early for six.

So, I devised a devious grandpa plan.

That night, I put a ladder up to the white avian estate and opened up one of the walls. Inside, I put a tape player with a recording of birdy chirps which I recorded from the internet. I replaced the wall, and put the ladder back out of sight.

The next morning, when Joseph was standing at the back door watching the birdhouse, I slipped into my office and activated the tape player with my remote control.

Right on cue, came Elvis singing "Hound Dog!"

I thought I had put in the birdy chirp tape, but must have forgotten to switch it out for one of those I had listened to in my garage when busy with woodworking.

Joseph came into my office and asked why Elvis was in the birdhouse.

I told him the birds were listening to oldies on their stereo.


"Yeah, birds have stereos. Little ones. So, I guess birds moved into the house, huh?"


"Well, listen."

Elvis was singing "Heartbreak Hotel."

"Grandpa, I didn't see any mama or  daddy birds flying around."

"They're relaxing on their couch, munching on bugs."


"Trust me."

He walked away. Perhaps some legitimate grandpa lie had eroded some grandson trust right then.

That night, I switched the tape."

Next day, he heard chirping.

"I thought you were kidding me again, grandpa."

"Grandpas never lie."


Now, I am not sure how to handle the lack of a little birdy or two when they should arrive later this year.

I'll figure something out.


The above is a true story of my adventures with Joseph of late, and if you don't believe it, come visit. I'll play you the birdy tune from the aging New England cottage on the post, and if you are good, maybe some Elvis, too.