Woodpeckers in the Lumber Department

Sir Alice (whom, according to Bernie Taupin, all the young girls love):

Every time I go into a large warehouse-like store, I see and hear birds flitting and twittering about among the rafters. They've never seemed too disturbed about it, so neither have I, until I encountered another little flock at Home Depot yesterday and actually put a little thought into it. Assuming the birds don't usually think to get out the way they came in through the loading docks, and assuming they have nothing to eat, they just eventually just die and plummet into the stacks of plastic lawn chairs and electric fireplaces. If this is happening at every Home Depot across the country, do they have some sort of company policy to catch or chase out the critters? I've never heard of anyone complaining to management about being crapped on either, but it must happen occasionally.

-- Self-Appointed Voice of the Home Depot Sparrows

Usually, we human beans don't expect much out of birds. I mean, not much in the way of deep thinking or cool moves. Too bad, because they have more in their repertoires than flying around and pooping on your car. Luckily, the elves have a direct line to a Home Depot insider, who confirms that the stores are accidental aviaries. But there's no corporate goon squad with pellet guns picking them off the rafters. The birds fly in, they fly out, probably via the same route. Even if a bird bumbled into the riding-mower section and headed for a perch in the rafters, away from people, it could tell by light, air currents, and just the general ambience of the place where the exits were.

But suppose you're right. All warehouse stores are chock full of trapped and dying birds. Big problem? No way. The second most common form of warehouse wildlife after birds is cats. Feral cats in the rafters. Noticed by employees but not much by customers. Talk about being pooped on....

But, back to this bird-brain stuff. If you're truly the voice of the humble sparrow, then you'd better read up on some of their accomplishments. Specifically, this tale (true) from, um, New Zealand, as I recall. At a gas station there was a small indoor restaurant, and the door would open automatically when a customer broke a light beam. Birds quickly learned that there were plenty of good eats on the floor if they zipped in while the door was open. Eventually, when business was slow, I guess, the birds learned how to fly through the light beam and open the door themselves. One bird even figured out that if he sat on the light-beam post and stuck his head down in just the right spot in front of the fixture, the doors would open. Worked the same way from the inside out. So, don't underestimate the brain power of your average bird.

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