10 June 2011

Nepenthe Birds Disrupted by Airfield

Bird Men? Prefers Birds

No "Nepenthe" for A.L. Timblin, as Planes Drive Feathered Friends Away

Alva Leroy Timblin wouldn't toss a feather in the path of progress, but when progress reverses the process, that makes Mr. Timblin mad.

Mr. Timblin, attorney, long time resident of Omaha and for 13 years a householder in a cottage he built with his own hands just east of Carter Lake, can work up no general enthusiasm over planes, or the fact that uninterrupted coast-to-coast passenger service is "in our midst."

"Don't tell me what they can do," he said as he stood in the doorway of his cottage, "Nepenthe" so named for that soothing potion of the ancients, guaranteed to drive away all grief and pain.

"Bird Men - Bah!"

"Look at them!" and he raised a fist to heaven, as a great plane roared overhead. "Birdmen! Bah! Damn em! They scare all the birds away; that's what I got against them. There should be a law, but there isn't and I don't suppose there ever will be!"

Mr. Timblin moved from the noise of the city to his home just a block or [two] south of what is now the municipal airfield, to escape the hurry, worry and fretting of city life.

Birds, bees, trees, flowers, water and the weather of the four seasons, binoculars and a well-seasoned briar pipe; all these until planes came worked "Nepenthe" indeed. Now it is so different.

Feathered Friends Depart.

"I've got used to expecting them to drop in on me any minute, or scalp me like an Indian. I've even got sort of used to the noise," he declared. "But they've done me dirt, in scaring away the birds. They can't hurt my flower garden; at least they haven't yet, and this is some consolation; but this year will be even worse than last as far as birds are concerned. They just won't come, like they did before these human hawks took to flying right over my house.

In his early 70's, Mr. Timblin stands six feet one-inch in his shoes and weights 160 pounds. His eyes are blue, his hair iron gray and is skin is tawny.

Geese flying over at night have been music to his ears. Now, he says both ducks and geese when they come keep as far from the air field as possible.

Once Counted Many Birds.

"In the spring of the year, I've stood in my yard and counted seventeen different kinds of birds all about me. I'd like to see anybody do it again," he said.

In a book he has kept a list of the birds he has seen there. These include the yellow-billed cuckoo, black-billed cuckoo, belted kingfisher, hairy, downy, Texan redheaded and redbellied woodpeckers, flicker, night hawk, chimney swift, many varieties of wild waterfowl, ruby humming bird, kingbird, flycatchers, blue-jays, bobolink, cowbird, blackbirds, meadow larks, orchard orioles, grackles, American goldfinch, McCown longspur, Baird, grasshopper, Leconte, lark, Harris, white-throated, song, swamp and fox sparrows; slate-colored junco, indigo bunting, Dickcissel, tree swallows, northern shrike, warbling and black-capped vireos, many different kinds of warblers, Maryland yellow-throat, American redstart, catbirds, brown thrasher, Bewick wren, brown creeper, house wren, black-capped chickadee, golden crowned kinglet, ruby kinglet, robins, of course, four kinds of thrushes, and many more.

"Now if I'd see some of these around here, I'd be just as startled as if I saw a dodo," says he. "Don't talk about flying to me. I've seen the best in the world -- but those 'birds' over there have driven most of them away."

If the worst comes to the worst Mr. Timblin may change the name of his cottage from "Nepenthe" to "Petrol."

April 3, 1931. Omaha World-Herald 66(159): 10.