Monday, February 25, 2013

The Birds

Now that the saga is finished I have a little story about the pigeons in my attic and a little insight to the Thai way of thinking.

There have been pigeons in my attic since I moved in nearly 2 months ago.  When I brought this to the attention of the landlord, she resolved to remedy the situation.  It's not healthy to live so close to bird droppings, bird lice, and the dust from their constant flying around and walking over the crawl hole cover which filters this stuff onto my living room floor.

The first "fix" was the handyman mixing up a batch of concrete to try to seal up the holes on the outside of the roof.  "There", the landlord said, "birds gone".  Well, the birds were not gone, so the handyman did the same thing again.  "Roof fix", said the landlady.  Well, "roof not fix", was my reply.

Trying to help the process along, I suggested she have someone go into the attic and look for light from the outside to identify where they were getting in.  She got one of the other tenants (who sells hotdogs from a street cart) to climb up and take a look.  When I climbed up after him to look, I could see several places that obviously were where they were getting in.  There was also netting from long ago that would have kept them out, but was old and had rips and tears.  This is going to be simple, I thought.  Someone will just have to put up some new netting or screen and the problem will be solved.

Hold on a minute.... not so easy as I imagined.  When the neighbor boy brought down 5 eggs, he and the landlady spoke in Thai (quite a lot) and their consensus was that "birds look outside for eggs and not come back".  What?  Are they serious?  Yes, they were, so I had to wait until the next morning to tell them "birds not gone".

So after another week, the landlady called upon another 20 something skinny Thai kid.  Probably her nephew.  Soot was his name.  He crawled up to take a look and his remedy would be to smoke them out.  I'm thinking at this point "just put up the screen and be done with it".

Soot returned some days later with a 5 gallon metal can and a handful of smoking fireworks.  He wanted to use my kitchen knife to cut the top of the can off.  No way Soot.  I found a hunting knife that had been a Christmas gift from my father many years ago (I have no idea why I brought that thing to Thailand).  When Soot had a large portion of the top cut off, I could see it had about an inch of gasoline in the bottom.  Great, he's going to blow the roof completely off, that'll take care of em.  No, he took the can downstairs and dumped the gas and rinsed out the can, then placed it in the attic near the access crawl hole.  He lit 2 of the bombs and they had firecrackers inside, then the whole attic lit up when the smoke part started spewing sparks.  The attic was, indeed, full of smoke and as far as I could tell the pigeons just went to the other end of the building.

"There", he said. "I have to go now because I live far and it will be cold riding my motorcycle".  "I come back in 7 days and put up screen".  I replied "but the birds will be back by then".  "No, no."  "You light more smoke tomorrow, then birds will remember that it hard to breathe and not come back."  OK, here is some more magical thinking and of course the pigeons were back later that night.

Soot tried to communicate with me by typing Thai into his i-phone, then translating it.  This one says: "It will help you have some time.  But if you can make your own bird.  Then again I would not dare for fear of recidivism."

My plan now is not to waste the smoke bombs now, I'll wait until the day before he returns and smoke the hell out of them, then again on the morning of his arrival.  All this time the cover is off the crawl hole and the next morning when I came into the living room there were 5 pigeons standing around the hole looking down at me. 

The day arrives for my first bombing and I am surprised how much these are fireworks and not smoke bombs.  They just leave smoke from the burning, cracking fireworks.  The tin can glowed white hot and when I moved it a little I saw that it had set the pigeon droppings on fire!  I now have a fire in the attic....and pigeons.  The fire wasn't too difficult to put out and I resolved that these fireworks are not intended for this use.  I covered the crawl hole and waited for Soot to arrive, and waited.  He did not show.  The landlord said "oh, he is taking 2 days off from working, he arrive on Tuesday.  Tuesday I stay home all day, wait, wait.  Again no show.

Landlord now says he'll be here on Thursday.... I'm through staying home to wait, so I go shopping and swimming and about my business, while Soot does not show again.

Now I ask the landlord to move to a different apartment because it has become clear that Soot has lost interest.  Now I'm on the 3rd floor and a new tenant is in my old one on the 4th.  Apparently Thais can live with birds in the attic.


  1. Haha. I have only heard part of this story before. What a drama. Our landlady means well but the execution of her plan leaves one wanting more.

    I'm glad the move worked and that you are staying here.

    Dave & Nut

  2. Dave, Take another look at the post. I've put a vid on it showing the "smoking fireworks" that Soot used.