The Flight of the Mysterious Intruders


“"Every animal knows more than you do." 
-- Native American Proverb (Nez Perce)


I woke up early one morning and Sadie was barking.  This was unusual 
because she lives by the old proverb: “Always put off until tomorrow 
anything that interferes with a nap.” 

I decided to go see why she was barking.  I peeked into the room and there in 
front of the fireplace sat both Sadie and Ally Cat. I could tell at a glance that 
they had the fireplace cornered!  Each of them had planted themselves on
either side of the hearth, watching it closely.  I wondered what would make 
them both decide to sit there together with Sadie barking at an empty 
fireplace.  Ally Cat normally doesn’t descend her lofty throne on the 
windowsill for anyone unless food is involved. 

It wasn’t the time of year for Santa so I wondered what other intruder 
could possibly enter via the chimney. I decided to observe the situation for a while 
to see why they were so engrossed with the fireplace so I took my post on the couch 
with a cup of tea in hand.  The cat switched her tail and laid her ears back as if 
offended by my presence in the room.   She seemed quite sure that she had 
the situation under control and I figured she probably did.   She believes in, 
“Striking while the feet are bare” and I have learned to wear thick socks.

I was getting bored and about to call off the watch when suddenly I heard 
something.  Yes, there it was again!  It was a scraping sound. Sadie got excited 
again, barking and looking at me as if I were completely irresponsible for not 
at least having a shotgun handy.  About that time, I heard a fluttering noise 
along with what could only be described as a bird scream.  Yes, there was 
a bird in distress in the chimney!

I remembered cleaning the fireplace one time when we first moved into 
this house.  At that time, I had opened the damper just to test it when a 
dead bird fell out. Upon remembering that, what else was there to do? 
I couldn’t just leave a screaming bird in the chimney so I decided I would 
open the damper to see if I could get the bird out because it obviously 
couldn't get out at the top of the chimney. 

I began by moving all the stuff away from in front of the fireplace.  With all 
the paraphernalia out of the way, I needed to move the fire screen so I 
pulled it away from the front of the fireplace.  Now I was ready to open 
the damper so I reached up inside the fireplace, as both animals waited expectantly, 
but I couldn't seem to find the damper. After a couple of tries, 
I decided that I needed to call for reinforcements.  I got to thinking that
my husband might like to be the bird hero of the day and help me.  After all, 
I didn't want to be greedy and claim all the glory for saving a bird’s life. 

I called to my husband a couple of times and finally I heard him say, "Where are you?” 
This is coming from the tech man who travels the country and carries 
a cell phone, compass, and a global positioning device but he 
still can't seem to find me in the house. 

Finally, he came into the room, looked the situation over, and said, 
“You’re going to let a bird loose in the house?”  I couldn't remember the old 
proverb about birds flying in the house but I came up with one of my 
own, “Better a live bird in the house than a dead one in the chimney.” 

 “I thought maybe you could catch it before it flies out of the chimney if
you keep the fire screen close to the fireplace”, I suggested. 
He didn’t show a lot of enthusiasm about that idea.

It took him no time at all to reach up inside the fireplace and open the damper. 
All at once, not one, but TWO birds were flying around in the house and the 
dog and cat were going wild!  The birds were trying to get away from the dog 
that was barking and chasing them and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a 
cat jump quite that high before.

I ran for the front door to open it so the birds could fly outside but 
the door was stuck!  As I tried to hurry, I twisted and pulled 
on the doorknob.  It finally opened after I put one foot on the wall and pulled 
with all my might and fell down. I think I’ll be able to 
walk normally again in a month or so.

Now, the next problem was getting the birds to go out the door! 
Sadie and Ally were trying to do their part by chasing them and I
imagine those poor birds were wishing they had never 
come out of that chimney at all! 

I was trying to keep the dog and cat from having an early lunch when 
Sadie barked again and one bird found the door and flew away. My husband
began trying to catch the other bird that had gotten in the window behind 
the geraniums but it got away from him.  Finally, after one more flight through 
the house, the last bird also flew out the door to join his friend in a bush outside. 

Since we didn't catch a bird, we will never know if the old proverb 
is true: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”  However, we do know that the 
birds were both starlings, so “Birds of a feather do flock together”.

Pamela Perry Blaine
© March, 2004