Sandhill cranes feed in Beluga Slough on May 11, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Sandhill cranes feed in Beluga Slough on May 11, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Unhinged Alaska: To tweet or not to tweet

  • By NICK VARNEY For the Peninsula Clarion
  • Saturday, May 18, 2019 10:17pm
  • Life

The annual Shorebird Festival in Homer is now over so the guests of honor should arrive any day now.

The expected migratory pulse of feather bearers had no discernible pulse, therefore, our local eagle population was called on to perform various narcissistic poses and impromptu demonstrations of mugging seagulls with an IQ of a saltine.

What is it with this year’s spring? One day we have a mild touch of sleet at sea level while the graying pinnacles of the mountains across the bay are refreshed by a silvery blanket of virgin snow. Then, pow! The sun decides to kick things up a bit and stick around for a week. Suddenly, I’m tramping around in mud up to my keister while Hitchcock’s, “The Birds” is coming alive in our backyard.

I’m talking about a serious invasion here. And, I swear, it’s the same land birds, year, after year, after year. Not just species, but the identical birds or, at least their equally deranged descendants.

There’s ageless Pavarotti, who is a huge robin with a voice that could match any opera maestro in the world today, including a plethora of dead ones.

This cheese-brain starts to bellow every morning just as the glimmer of dawn begins to ooze over the eastern horizon and does not desist until he has every other critter that can chirp, twitter, caw or screech, dancing around in the nearby spruce and alders.

Once his disruptive mission is accomplished, he flies off to roost somewhere and zones out leaving me with no holds barred, bird rap battle going full bore. And, guess who leads that little sideshow? Well, it’s some petite, plumed, weird-o that I call…

Hold it: The edit police are not going to allow me to utilize that particular terminology due to the fact that there are some of you who would blow your morning oatmeal through every orifice in your skull if you saw the word in print. So, I’ll just use part of his name, ‘head.

I don’t have a clue as to what kind of creature this frenzied miniature peeper is but it sounds like a goosed soprano.

The wee beasty can’t be over 3 inches tall yet he has a scream that can crack windshields and loves taking center stage after Pavarotti ghosts into the boonies.

Of, course the morning squawk-a-mania wouldn’t be perfect without Big Duke, our resident stud-muffin pheasant shrieking at ole ‘head to shut up while Mort the magpie joins in and screeches just because he’s inherently obnoxious.

It’s like the menagerie tabernacle choir around here until about 9:30. Then, everyone scatters when Fast Freddy, the falcon, floats by looking for his breakfast of small birdie turnovers or beak-scrambled rodents (it depends on who forgets to look up).

Double F is trés cool and knows it. I swear that I’ve seen him sporting shades on some of his more spectacular quick snack dives. That smokin’ sky-Harley can clear out a crowd.

I just wish that he were an early riser. Well, at least prompt enough to shave the top notch off of the mad peeper once in a while, or make Pavarotti choke on his early worms. But alas, he seems to prefer to arrive near brunch time when his main targets have moved on after their morning banquet and concluded their cacophony of morning chants.

I cannot end this avian adventure tale without mentioning the Thuds.

Thud is the generic name that I bestow on the astuteness-disabled birds that smack into the cabin’s front windows at around the speed of sound and then lay on the deck, claws up, like some sort of mutant dead fly.

They aren’t dead, of course. They smacked head-on, didn’t they? They’d have to hit butt-first to do themselves any brain damage. They just lay there a bit, then stagger up, wobble to the edge of the deck and attempt to fly away with a bit of dignity. That’s hard to do when you’re going sideways and are upside down but at least they are quiet about it.

Time to shut the ‘puter down. An insufferable interloper has just made its spring debut I need to introduce it to my “little friend,” a modified, long-shaft, single-action broom.

Ever hear a woodpecker doing a drum riff on a log cabin? It makes the local menagerie tabernacle choir sound like a chilled-out Eagles concert.

Nick can be reached at if he isn’t busy trying to entice Double F into making early dawn raids.

• By NICK VARNEY, For the Peninsula Clarion

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