It’s incredible. I have never seen anything like it, but there is something familiar here. A bird, a bright red cardinal, is attacking my window. When I look out to see him, he flies to another window, looks in, and attacks again.
The brave and determined creature does this as long as there is sun in the sky. This war with my window seems very difficult for him to end. He sees a reflection -- another bird of war -- exactly what he is watching for. My bird defends his territory, protects his mate and the berries he craves. He readily sacrifices himself for his cause; the blood I occasionally find on the window offers testimony to his bravery. He cares not for the odds when he finds another threatening cardinal in each window he checks.
Every time he attacks he falls to the ground, but still, he defends. No one can deny that I must have the noblest bird in the neighborhood. But when we look past his valor we see he is simply at war with himself. We can see it, but he can’t.
He hasn’t learned after three long years of fighting, the birds he sees have never trespassed on his domain, and the flock in the windows leaves his red berries alone. The berries are his. He could be at peace with his enemy if he would fly to the sill and see the alien bird does not peck him unless he pecks first. He would learn he has more control over the peace than he thought, and that the peace starts with him.
With hostility ceased, maybe he would be willing to share his berries; well, that might be too much to expect, at least at first. But the cardinal cannot find a peace, after all, his brain is so small, it is not capable of constructive thought. He must follow his instinct and do what he has always done; war is his only answer, though it doesn’t seem to fix his problem.
There is much we could learn from such a bird if we watch the futility of his actions. If we study what he does, we can see his bloody effort is too steep a price for the useless accomplishment. His injuries did not have to happen. If he would look around he could see other birds do not need to constantly defend, but my bird will always police the territory wherever he goes, and all other birds should study the duration of a long war that accomplished little and is just not worth all the sacrifices made.
My bird has fought my window for three years now and has nothing to show for the effort. I have to wonder when he will learn and when will the pain be too much? Yes, when will the pain be too much; we should think about that. How many windows must we challenge with our might and find a less than satisfying result?
Our wars can last so many years. Crazy and false excuses for a war lead to guarding berries which really need no protection, and to a pride that appears based in a logic of instinct rather than informed thought. Nothing will deter us, not even a peace prize which pleads with us to think, and then act, but the war with the window continues.
I wish I could talk to my bird. I wish I could explain reflections, but if he doesn’t hear or can’t fathom, I would ask him to consider the enemy; is there really an unyielding force there? See the blood, or the potential blood, even the blood of the enemy, and measure the benefit against the cost. I can see already, it would not help; there is only a birdbrain there.
Tom Scholl is a resident of Macon. He writes every other week for The Telegraph.