Garry wasn’t a happy chappie. Normally a quiet, peaceful man, he spent his time listening to music and reading. He would also occasionally indulge in his passion - photography.
But none of those pastimes had anything to do with why he was unhappy. His problem was his new neighbour. A nature lover, she spent most of the daylight hours tending her newly created garden and feeding an ever increasing number of wild birds.
“It wouldn’t be so bad if she just fed the lorikeets, maggies and pee wees, but she is now feeding the crows and that really jerks me off!” he said angrily. “Why?” I asked quietly, feeling his anger.
“Because the blighters make so much flaming noise. This was a quiet neighbourhood, until she moved in and brought at least half of Queensland’s crow population with her. Caw! Caw! Caw! That’s all you hear from sunup to nightfall,” he growled.
With a desire to alleviate Garry’s problem, I decided it was time for a history lesson. “Mate, they are a protected native bird and were here a long time before us white fellers came along,” I said. “So what does that prove?” was Garry’s response, tinged with a certain belligerence. “Well nothing I guess, except that they have as much right as you to be here,” I replied. I had, by now, realised that my attempt at using history to calm Garry’s ruffled feathers had only inflamed his passion.
This was further evidenced by his next statement. “I think I’ve got the answer. Have you ever heard the sound of a pair of thongs being sharply slapped together?” he asked. I admitted to not being familiar with that sound. “Well, it’s the same as a gun going off, and that will send them packing!” he laughed gleefully, while rubbing his hands together. Now I admit, that the thought of Garry running around the neighbourhood, banging a pair of thongs together did, momentarily, hold a certain twisted delight for me. But I hastily brushed it aside and in doing so, decided to employ my next tactic, which I call the David Attenborough disarming approach.
“Did you know that there are five species of crow in Australia? The one here is the Torresian Crow, distinguished by its white eyes with blue inner rings. They…” “Those are the blighters!” said Garry, rudely interrupting my best Attenborough delivery. He had stopped me relating why this big, black, intelligent bird was one of the most interesting Australian birds. But with no hope of using Attenborough to solve Garry’s crow dilemma, I simply gave up and let Garry rant on. Like an Einstein about to announce his Theory of Relativity to the world, Garry said, “Mate, I will share my solution with you, which will rid us of the wretched crows. I have purchased a machine from the United States, which emits ultrasonic sound waves and it’s guaranteed to frighten even elephants. It’s state of the art technology. The crows don’t stand a chance!” he smiled confidently.
I didn’t see Garry again for a couple of weeks, but when I did, I asked wickedly, “How is your elephant busting machine working?” I instantly regretted my question, when I saw the smile disappear from his face. “The useless thing cost me over a hundred bucks with postage and packing. All it did was make the crows caw louder!” he said downheartedly. But then suddenly his face brightened as if he had remembered something important.
“Have you ever heard a pair of thongs being sharply slapped together? It’s just like a gun going off. That will send them packing!”
Illustration: Kevin Hawley