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The Fiendish Hellbird of the House of Stiefvater

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Regular readers will know that Lover, Thing 1, Thing 2, and my car Loki just moved. We are now in the new House of Stiefvater, which is located just miles away from where I was born thirty years and several dozen hometowns ago. It’s all very thrilling. Pretty much everything about New House of Stiefvater is delightful. For starters, this is the first house this particular Stiefvater has ever actually owned, I went a little power mad. Ten years of rentals meant that I had grown wary of planting flowers or vegetables, lest I miss them when I left. It meant that I contemplated every wall hanging for weeks, trying to decide if it was worth the hole I would have to spackle and paint over.

But now, this house was OURS. And I went a little power-mad. I planted things.

I planted a million roses.
New Pink Roses

I planted peppers and tomatoes.

Peppers in JulyGreen Tomatoes in July

I planted daisies.
Daisy, Close up

I planted a billion-zillion herbs.
Herbs in the Garden

I dug about 40,000 holes in the yard and put things in them. And then I started banging nails into walls.

Beginning of the Photo Wall

Lots of nails.
The Office Wall

Lover even put up a sign at the end of our driveway, announcing to the world that this was a House of Strangeness. Basically, it’s all pretty idyllic in the new House of Stiefvater. Except for one thing.

The Fiendish Hellbird of the House of Stiefvater.

Some of you may be looking at this and saying, why, that is not a Hellbird. That is a male Eastern Towhee. You would be wrong. Every morning, as soon as the sun raises one eyebrow over the horizon, the Fiendish Hellbird of the House of Stiefvater begins his assault.
towhee attack

It’s hard to tell the purpose of this battle. Lover and I initially thought that the Fiendish Hellbird might be attacking his own reflection, but after a few hours/ days/ weeks of observation, it’s become apparent that the Fiendish Hellbird doesn’t look before he throws himself at the glass. I’ve decided instead that it may be based on some sort of point system where the Hellbird achieves a point for every new body part he manages to smash against a glass surface. If this is the case, the Hellbird wins. He so wins. He has no body parts left unsmashed.

I feel as if this futile fervor should cause his mate concern, but she merely sits on the fountain and cleans herself as the Fiendish Hellbird dashes his brains silly. Moreover, he disregards all of my attempts to scare him from the backyard. Unconcerned by my presence, he continues flinging himself with joyful abandon. And after the Hellbird has finished his morning routine, he attaches himself to a branch and then drops to the ground on his head with no apparent concern for his own safety.

I have decided that Fiendish Hellbird is a frat boy reincarnated.

The question is what to do about him? It seems callous to acknowledge that our deepest concern is being woken by the sound of the Hellbird’s skull on our windows, but as the Hellbird seems to have no interest in his own self-preservation, I’m not sure what’s left to save but our sleep.

Lover hit the Internet, looking for wisdom (I can hear you laughing from here), and got a few suggestions. They included placing stickers on our windows, replacing our windows with stained glass, placing spikes on our window sills, and taping paper over our windows.

These are not suggestions. They are formalized insanity! Unbelievably, the Internet had failed us. And the Hellbird has failed to destroy himself through repeated head injury, although that bird is certainly not going to Harvard any time soon. So we persist under the tyranny of the Fiendish Hellbird, a blemish on the otherwise halcyon House of Stiefvater.

I suppose that into every life, a little rain must fall.

Rain, plus feathers.

  • Anonymous

    This is a hilarious post. I think the Fiendish Hellbird has a personality disorder. Or, he is bipolar. Or, simply has a mental problem. Maybe he’s autistic. Autistic people like to do the same action over and over. Maybe he’ll grow tired of this eventually and move on to another routine. Keep us posted. Very hilarious and the cartoon was great!

    • We’ve definitely decided this bird does not represent all towhees, but rather a small population of sociopathic towhees.

  • NSedwick

    We have SO been there…but our hellbird was an oversexed robin!! We tried rubber snakes & owl decoys with moderate success!

    • We thought about hanging scary things, but he is not alarmed by US, and it seems like decoys would be less terrifying. Plus, we LIKE our robins, and we’re worried that an owl decoy will scare them and the doves away.

  • Izzy

    Perhaps he’s a fan of yours? xD

  • Krissii Mayner

    I am laughing quite a bit harder than I ought to be, considering I am in a public place. Perhaps the bird is my brother’s long lost twin? He has been known to hit things repeatedly, in what I believe to be called the game of Football.

    Jut putting it out there.

    Anyhoo, loved the update!

  • Try a sheer fabric, cheesecloth or a chiffon, stapled to the outside of the frame so that he hits it and bounces back before hitting the glass. That way it’s soundless, painless and you can still see out the window. Just make sure it’s really taut so he gets some good spring back.
    And good luck with the 40000 plants! That’s going to require some serious weeding and watering!

    • We considered this, but he’s throwing himself at every window on three sides of the house . . . about 60 panes of glass. I’m telling you, he is the only animal more stubborn than me.

      • Sounds like it was meant to be then! He’s the universes’ way of giving you a housewarming gift. Sit back and enjoy!

  • I had a woodpecker who tried to drill a hole in my chimney pot. My steel chimney pot. You can imagine.
    Sympathies. Obviously Western Towhees are more sane, or perhaps this one took too many illicit drugs in his youth.

  • Anonymous

    Haha, the Hellbird sounds like your arch nemesis! Have you thought of getting a bird feeder or bath? As a feeder i don’t mean one of those hang in trees bird feeders, but a table top feeder with a little house on it? Maybe the frat boy Hellbird is hungry and wants to get your attention. I had a cat who used to bite my brother on the nose every Sunday morning when he wanted food at 7am. And hey, keep your friends close and your enemies closer…mwhahaha.

  • Sarah VanBuskirk

    I laughed throughout this ENTIRE post.

    We just moved to the UK (Hubby is in the Air Force) and are currently in our first “home.” Sad to say we have our own problem that just happened minutes ago…

    Snails and Slugs (about 15 of them) were having a rave party on my front porch. One was even daring enough to climb to the top of my door.

    Maybe it comes with moving to a new place? Animals might feel the need to test our patience.

  • What a silly, mental bird! The illustration looks similar to the rufous-sided towhee. Those ones though tend to be ground birds searching for insects in the undergrowth.
    I got to admit bird can honestly be such “bird-brains” in multiple terms. Near the mill pond, there’s tons of thick weeds and green algae. A sparrow had the brilliant idea of diving down (for what a drink or to land?) and instead gets tangled in there. I waited, and the dummy starts panicking and getting more stuck under the water. Needless to say, I got down there and got the little kamikaze out. And then he just stares at me when I put him down (away from the water). If that sparrow could understand human dialect I would have said: “That was stupid, now we both smell swampy and probably are going to get swimmer’s itch”.

  • I always love to hear of authors finding their perfect home, I guess because it is nice to think that in the crazy world we live in people still manage to find their way.

    Sorry to hear about the crazy bird though, can’t say I’d have any idea what to do in that situation. But I wish you the best of luck!


  • Stephanie

    Perhaps Hellbird wants to be a character in a story? I mean, you’ve got us all laughing so maybe there’s something there. ๐Ÿ˜› Hopefully he’ll give up soon, but he does seem determined. I’m thinking that won’t happen until he accidentally sends himself to birdie oblivion.

  • HAHA that’s hilarious. Thanks for the update.

  • This is hilarious ๐Ÿ˜€ Also, I have been reading your blog for, what, two years now, and have just noticed that your car is called Loki. On the subject of norse mythology, if that is indeed the subject we are on, I was reading a bit about the elves and the phrase ‘elf-shot’, which instantly put me in mind of ‘Lament’. Just to throw that out there (I’m assuming that’s where you got it from). ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Sherie

    Hmmmm…Shutters, maybe? It sounds as if the poor guy is just trying to impress its mate.

  • Elane

    The Fiendish Hellbird of the House of Nunley was a male cardinal. For 4 years this hellbird threw himself at windows all around our house (we have video!); we even saw him trying to teach his children! I do believe though that they were a bit smarter than their dad because we’re quite certain that dad was brain damaged after all those years of pounding himself into the windows and we never saw another cardinal continue the tradition.

  • Oh dear. How could we not laugh. lol
    Hope yours has a better ending than the ‘grand slam’ at our house. Luckily I didn’t find it, I was upset enough hearing my husband did. Ours might have been a mockingbirdโ€ฆ..

    Only you would take the time to paint? it out. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    or is this some of your new animation testing?

    Didn’t look like your ‘usual’ color pencil. ??

    Congrats on the new house!
    Always a great feeling!

    Will recipes using all those herbs and great things be shared? [she says hopefully ๐Ÿ˜‰

    since I did doubt your Pear/Pom./Guac. recipe ::hangs head:: but needed to use the leftover pom. anywayโ€ฆ.And yes, you were right! Again. It was indeed good!

  • One of my favorite webcomics, re homeownership and nailing things into walls that you own:


    Good luck with the hellbird. My father-in-law had great success with a small stuffed animal on the dash of his car – I think it was an otter, but THEY didn’t know!

  • I think at this point you should probably just open all the windows and see what happens when he comes hurtling in to your house.

    Worst case scenario: he smashes against every piece of glass in your home and leaves a trail of feathers, blood, and fear all over your house before either getting caught by a cat or flying out another window.

  • Sorry if this has been suggested (am going back for comments)

    Can you hang a perch or feeder there? Your birdie might bring friends with him if you do this, but he might also stop bashing his birdie brains on your window. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Melissa

    Perhaps this bird just want to get inside your house to read The Raven Boys, it makes sense to me….

  • Christina

    So…you’re not going to put spikes on your window sills? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Amanda

    So funny! ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck!

  • You know, this might be Nature’s way of removing the Hellbird from the genetic pool. Maybe your window is part of the pool filter. Just saying.

  • diana

    hi!!!! i really loved your trilogy!!

  • Chels

    I would suggest an outdoor kitty if your dogs won’t attack them. Just make sure its spayed/neutered so you don’t end up with a herd of them! And make sure its not a fat lazy cat either. Or you can get an indoor kitty and see if it scares the bird away from the inside.

  • Haha! My friend had a problem with a bird too. He would grab onto the screen of the window and just hang there… I thought she was kidding when she told me but then I witnessed it and am now a believer.

Maggie Stiefvater
Hi, I'm Maggie Stiefvater

Professional novelist by day and artist by night. I live an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with my charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, and neurotic dogs. I’m the author of the Books of Faerie (LAMENT and BALLAD); the bestselling SHIVER trilogy (SHIVER, LINGER, FOREVER), and THE SCORPIO RACES.

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