The Warbler and the Septic Tank Guy

Eulalia Benejam Cobb (Lali)

As a grace note for our potential house buyers, yesterday we had the septic tank drained.  The septic tank guy was dragging the heavy hose across our lawn, when he stopped by the front door, the one we hardly ever use.  "There's a bird nesting in that wreath," he said.  "Probably a warbler..."

I take a minimalist approach to Christmas decorations, but last winter I did buy a plain evergreen wreath for the front door.  A few days ago, I was walking up the driveway, scanning the house for defects, when I saw that the evergreen wreath had turned brown, and was sure to depress and deter anybody who came to see the house.  I decided to remove the wreath right away, and throw it into the dumpster (there is now a glorious rusty-green dumpster parked by the garage), but by the time I reached the house a million other urgencies--call the septic tank guy, the floor guy, the auction guy--had erased the wreath from my mind.

And that's a good thing, because in my abstracted mood I would have flung the wreath into the dumpster without noticing the tiny brown nest sitting amid the brown leaves.  But thanks to our alert  septic tank man, the future of the three diminutive pale-blue eggs is now assured.

I am willing to accept the septic tank man's tentative identification of the bird as a warbler.  (How many septic tank guys on the planet even know what a warbler is?  But in Vermont, he's probably not the only one.)  I've tried to get a look at the parent bird, but every time I come within ten yards of the nest he or she flies out with a loud grouse-like flutter.

Where security is concerned, this bird is a lot more uptight than the bluebird nesting in the back of the house, who hardly bothers to leave his perch when we walk out into the patio.  One thing he does leave, unfortunately, is great Pollock-like streaks of white poop on the newly painted barn-red wall.

So now we have a dismal brown wreath on the front door which cannot be touched until those eggs hatch and the (probable) warbler babies fledge.  And on the back wall we have bluebird poop which will continue to accumulate until the early- and late-season sets of bluebird nestlings take off.

If these birds don't leave us alone, this house will never sell.

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