Monday, 21 April 2008
The Day of the Chaffinch
Pure, unalloyed evil, that's your basic chaffinch. Well, no, it isn't. Which is why Daphne du Maurier called her famous story 'The Birds', rather than 'Attack of the Chaffinches, Starlings, Redshanks, Black-Headed Gulls and Other Assorted Avians'. Listening to a reading of the story on BBC7 this evening made me realise for the first time how very odd the whole idea is. For a start, the first attack is by small birds of the chaffinchy sort. The point here is that, even if the birds are driven mad with hunger due to a hard winter (the official explanation), these small tweety jobs are not meat eaters. A bit of bacon rind, yes, but not meat. So the only explanation for the birds' behaviour is some weird, collective urge to attack humanity. This puts 'The Birds' firmly at the horror end of the sci-fi spectrum, with rational explanation sacrificed for effect. Still a good story, though. Anyway, here's some more info on our feathered 'friends'. Just Look Around You!