By C.L. Beck
On March 19th, the swallows returned to Capistrano.
Aaaaah yes, their return always seemed so romantic to me. I envisioned a handsome Italian man holding a cheesy manicotti in one hand and a creamy cannoli in the other, wooing Sophia Loren, as the birds encircled them. The swallows would symbolize their eternal love as they fed pasta and pastries to each other.
Then I found out that swallows are messy birds that build their nests in carports and garages, bombing unwary passers-by with mud clods and droppings. To make matters worse, I found out Capistrano isn’t even in Italy. It’s in California.
The news was devastating to me. But, since I was still right about manicotti (a luscious, cheese-filled pasta) and cannoli (a flaky dessert filled with pastry cream), I managed to get over the disappointment. And despite the swallows’ vices, they’re graceful birds, which at least atones, in part, for their messy nesting habits.
On the other hand, I’m 100% certain there is one bird with no redeeming value in this life—the starling. Starlings, like the swallows of Capistrano (and even more like Freddy Krueger, from the movie, “Nightmare on Elm Street”) are baaaaack.
Starlings aren’t native to this country. I only know because I heard it on Paul Harvey. Or maybe I read it on the back of a cereal box. Thank goodness for those two or I’d never learn anything.
It seems that Eugene Schieffelin thought New Yorkers should be able to see every bird that’s mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. Since there weren’t any starlings in the New World, he brought them over from Europe and released them in Central Park in 1890.
I, personally, think the man had rocks in his head. Not only do the birds arrive in flocks to eat my outdoor cats’ dry food, but they drive my dog insane because he thinks they’re intruders and thieves.
Which they are. In the spring, I spend my time dashing out the door, throwing whatever’s handy at the birds … which does explain odd things like bottles of ketchup and toothbrushes stuck in the branches of my trees.
I’m sure Sweet William (Shakepeare that is, not Clinton) never realized the mere mention of starlings would have such a far-reaching effect.
The moral of the story? Even if we’re as talented as Shakespeare, we need to choose our words carefully. Otherwise, future generations might end up with something like the birds from heck roosting in their eaves and squawking from their trees.