Sunday, March 9

The Mating Tree

It has taken me awhile to realize the importance of a simple Almendro (almond) tree living right outside my living room, kitchen, and bedroom windows. When I bought my house, the tree was rather small. It grew and encroached on my house and over-head wiring, so I cut it back. Too me, it was just a pain in the butt tree with leaves that fell constantly. It offered shade but I couldn't park my car under it for the iguana and bird droppings.

I have since come to realize the importance of that particular tree.

When I bought my house, I was immediate thrown into the turmoils of renovating. Everything was new to me, things like how to get supplies for the projects, how to even ask for what I needed not knowing Spanish, it was a daunting task. "Back then" at the hardware store, everything was behind the counter (for security reasons) and you had to ask for what you wanted. They might or might not have it. Needless to say, it was a challenge but suffice it to say, I was not as aware, as I have become to be, of my surroundings...
Back to my story.
The flock of "Zanates" (crow like black birds that oroginally came down from Nicaragua) were not much ever noticed until I was installing my fence as the final BIG($$) project. (In hide site, I would have done THAT, the security part, FIRST!) The welders worked under the shade of that tree and stored their equipment there as well. The bird droppings from during the night would cover EVERYTHING. They rigged up a long rope tied to a branch and extended it across, fastening it to the fence post. I would hang on this rope tied to the tree every evening, in a jumping fashion, to rattle the branches and scare off the birds from nesting there during the night. Did it work? At first. The Zanate bird is smart and quickly realized, I was no danger.

One year, it became so severe (the amount of birds in that tree), out of sheer frustration, I had every damn leaf and branch cut off the tree. I knew the tree would return and finally, my purpose was realized. No more bird do-do for my dogs to eat like candy snacks! Peace and quiet at last.
I had won, Finally, or so I thought.

This year, the branches and the big floppy leaves have returned and the birds returned, too. IN FULL FORCE, Flocks and Flocks! Promptly at 5:45 pm, they would start the gathering and chatter away, LOUDLY, until 6:20 pm when one would make a "thrilling" (twirl the r) sound and they all would shut up. Only if something would disturb them in the night would they even utter a peep. Great security for me. At sometime around daybreak, the "Fiestas de los Pajaros" (Bird Party, I call it) would begin again, IN FULL EARNEST. I tired squirting the water hose on them, raking a long pole through the branches to scare them. I even built a big leaf pile and ignited it just at the crucial moment when they had settled in. In know, that was mean but I got desperate. The smoke drove them away but not far. They returned soon after the smoke cleared. I was ready to cut the tree down and then I started listening to them and enjoying being a part of the sunset and sunrise celebration. Instead of getting frustrated in the mornings, I listened to their "music" and I was somehow transformed into being very happy to wake up alive aside them. So simple not to fight it.

It was when my friend, Peggy, came to visit that I was nervous about the birds being here at those precise hours EVERYDAY and their loud "noise". She witnessed it and wasn't too pleased with the wake-up call but came to enjoy it (I hope). One day, she came into the house from a walk on the beach at sunset and told me she saw ALL the black birds heading in the direction of my house, MY TREE. Like something out of a movie. The birds were passing many perfectly good Almendro trees to come roost in "my tree".
She was amazed.
I was amazed. Why me?

During the past week, the tree has been silent in the evening and mornings. The mass of birds are no longer coming daily to nest. It is nothing I did, I assure you. I gave up and gave in. I figured it out that THAT tree is their mating tree. I have birds ALL around my house ALL of the time. All kinds of birds. It is still like that here even though there is tons of construction. The birds are holding their ground, still. I have missed the happy churping in the evening when I am preparing the food for the dogs. I got used to it. I miss my wake-up call from the birds in the mornings that says to me to be happy to be alive and have another day.
Truly, I can hardly wait until the mating season is here again and they come back to "their tree".


Gidget said...

Is'nt it funny how we grow to love the sounds of those guys? I miss the sounds of the nature reserve where I used to live as I had so many more than here on this mountain. That is why I purhased my birds I have now. I hate having them in cages so they are not free but they are well treated and I love it when they talk their bird talk. It is very refreshing to wake to the sounds of nature. Great story...............

Anonymous said...

We had a pair in the palm tree next to our pool. Everytime they took flight, they targeted the pool and/or whoever was lounging about. Our landscaper got tired of cleaning up the mess in and around the pool, I think. He told me there was a "chicken" in the tree, but I figured out he meant "chick" when he climbed up the tree and returned with the nest he removed. I asked if we could put the nest in another tree, away from the pool, but he thought I was gringa-nuts. So, I don't know what he did with the chicken zanate, and I don't want to know. So now I kind of miss the little presents in our pool. Great Post.

Peggy said...

Ha ha! I don't know if I came to 'enjoy' the birds! They were LOUD! I did get used to sleeping through their songs in the morning! It's so weird that they were there for years and then just went away!

TICA MACHA said...

Peggy, I KNOW YOU KNOW. You were here and saw it. I figured out that they come every year, I just didn't pay attention to when and for how long because I was so focused on getting rid of them. Had I just waited it out, they would have left on their own when they were done. They will be back when the time is right and I will take note when that time is.
It's all about cycles.

Anonymous said...

We are just beginning our consideration of whether to sell our home in Florida and retire to Central America.

Thank you for the life reminder that one can be upset and frustrated by things in life - or, so often, one can consciously *decide* to appreciate those very-same things which were SO annoying - and be SO much happier.

I used to grouse that restaurants never had the "Cran-Grape" that I preferred to drink. And then I finally just *decided* to like Iced Tea instead. I still spend far too much time finding things to be upset about - but, particularly when one is adopting a new country for one's residence, I suspect that "choosing to love the birds" will be utterly critical for happiness.

Perhaps we'll someday wind up being your neighbor. Thanks for helping me start out with an attitude which is more-likely to succeed.

TICA MACHA said...

'Tis my pleasure BeardFL. Looks like you are where I was about 8 years ago. In the thinking about moving to CR stage. I'm glad I took action and got my butt over here before they started coming in droves! I almost feel like an old-timer because I can remember things "back when". It has changed so quickly. I can't imagine what another 5 years will bring.
Costa Rica teaches you all sorts of lessons. I am slow to catch on but maybe that's from the heat. :) or trying to live the real 'pura vida' life.
The birds, well, you wouldn't believe how many came here. You could hardly talk over their chatter.
Never seen anything like it!
I still have plenty birds, everywhere, all day, but nothing like the 'Zanates' birds that camped out in that tree for about one month, plus. I figured it out. It's a cycle of life for those birds. That's their tree.

"It's a gift." - a quote from a surfer friend (Pelingo) commenting on the sun coming out after weeks of rain. It stuck.

Alison said...

I can hear these guys just reading your post. I have never had them outside my bedroom window, but I have to say that I really love all they have to say.

TICA MACHA said...

I tried to get a photo, I set up a tripod, set slow shutter for low light (sunset) and the birds flew with through it. I mean, I couldn't capture the image of birds flying to the tree. It was like they disappeared. I've seen articles where people run around with flashlights, making images and you never see the people in the background. It was like that.
I think the birds may not come back because they have already taught me what I needed to know about acceptance. I'll know this time next year, won't I. Now, I'm paying attention.