The residents who live in the rowhouses along the 600 block of Lexington Place NE at first admired the several birds in William Ransom's shrub. Then the attacks began.
Every time the Ransoms or the Joneses walked in or out of their homes, the birds appeared to chase them, soaring by their heads. Thomas and Fannie Jones tried to protect themselves by turning on the garden hose and waving it; William Ransom tried to protect himself by shaking a piece of foam rubber in front of his head.
Yesterday morning, the birds attacked the mailman, Darius Hughes. "They swooped down near my eyes," said Hughes. "I had to use dog spray to ward them off." Hughes was so shaken that he phoned his supervisor from a nearby house to report that he might not be able to deliver the mail to the residents of Lexington Place because he was "attacked by birds."
"I could tell by his voice he found it hard to believe," says Hughes. "He said the mail must go through." S Hughes took off his belt and swung it in the air as he walked from house to house delivering the mail, and the birds swooped about him.
That prompted Frances Ransom to phone the D.C. animal control agency, asking that someone do somthing about the birds. Jean Gilbert, a worker in the agency, said she told Ransom that the birds probably were protecting their young and that the problem would be solved by removing the nest from the shrub. She promised to send someone to remove the nest.
In the last week, the birds -- described by animal control workers as catbirds -- changed life on Lexington Place. People usually sit on their porches, discussing their children or their plans for retirement. Last week, they became bird watchers.
"See, that's the mother and that's the father," said Theresa Cunningham from her porch.
For all the trouble, the birds were entertaining. Yesterday afternoon, for example, as Rick Wiebe, 26, was walking along the sidewalk, a newspaper in his hand, two birds flew towards his head.
"Ooh, there's the birds," sighed Cunningham.
"They're vicious," said Wiebe.
The entertainment and the bother ended late yesterday afternoon, when Jose Maneechai of the animal shelter moved the catbirds' nest from the shrub at 622 Lexington Pl. and put it in his van, amid chirping protests from the adult birds. He said there were three two-week-old birds in the nest.
"We'll foster them and provide shelter for them until they're big enough to survive on their own," Maneechai said.