Yesterday we had a chickadee emergency!
Little man heard a commotion in the woodstove, and we found a black capped chickadee!
Chickadees are one of my favorite birds. They hang out with us all winter, are not that scared of humans (especially if there is food around), and are generally to adorable for words....
Unless they are covered with ashes and soot and I have to try to wrangle them out of the house. Then they are less cute :).
We have had at least three birds in our house since we have been here. Last time I tried to fish a chickadee out of the woodstove, it escaped into my house. Picture two kids and one mom trying to guide a frantic featherduster through either of two doors. You ever try to herd a bird? They are a lot less cooperative than herding, say, two year olds or cats or something....
So my goal was to try to get the bird out of the woodstove in some sort of container.
I needed a net, but I did not have one handy, except for the one we use for the fishtank. I figure odds of me actually getting the bird in a net that size without it escaping into the house was like.....nil.
So I figured that I would try to get a big black trash bag and open the door to the woodstove VVEERRYY carefully and see if I could get it in the bag, close it tight, and get it to the front door without it escaping.
Though my wrist is the skinniest part of me, it is still bigger than the bird. So if I try to sneak my hand in, there are plenty of holes for that little bugger to fly out of and they are ALL face level--my face. Plus, because I would be essentially pinning my own arm in a giant cast iron box, I would be helpless (and probably would squish my arm trying to slam the door back). I could just picture myself hollering and flailing while the kids scream and the bird panics. That image was SO rich in my imagination that I spent many minutes yesterday afternoon in "paralysis by analysis"--unable to actually do what needed to be done.
Now, let me say this. I am not afraid of birds at all. Not in the least. But you know what it is like when a tiny little flying thing comes RIGHT at your face....you are GOING to holler and swat. And then try to chase the thing all through the house. So I was REALLY trying to avoid that.
OH Did I mention the CAT? Yes, my "no-peripheral-vision, falls-off-the-couch-when-he-stretches, runs-into-walls-because-he-looks-backwards-when-he-runs, situationally-unaware" cat caught the tiniest bit of movement in the smoked glass (I bet the bird was a lot more thankful to be IN the woodstove at that moment!). The cat saw the bird in the glass, then walked BEHIND the woodstove to see if he could outflank the bugger before we shoved him in the bedroom and shut the door.
Ok, so plan "A" was to get the black trashbag around enough of the woodstove door so that the bird could not escape, and then wait for him to say "Oh, big black noisy hole that seems to be collapsing.....maybe that is my way out" and duck in the bag. (you know, it seemed a lot more reasonable at the time). Precious' job was to hold the top right corner of the bag against the stove AND to record the event on her camera, Little Man's job was to hold the bottom right of the bag against the stove AND shine the light in the woodstove, and my job was to press the bag against the left side of the stove, open the door, and try to look like I knew what I was doing.
Problem: bag was WAY too small for the opening, the children are positively BRILLIANT, but not terribly coordinated, and the bird is not stupid. No, the bird did not escape (through any of the holes that we left gaping around the edge of the bag), but he also did not cooperate. Time to shut the door and regroup.
Regrouping involved a terribly ridiculous idea of me just reaching in there and grabbing him while Little Man directed my actions (he was the only one with a flashlight, and I could not see in because of the way I had to sit to get into the door). Yeah, yeah...I know. However, this idea DID afford me the opportunity to look positively heroic in Precious' eyes. She kept saying "WOW mom, you are so brave!". (Quandry: do I confess that I have my own personal Alfred Hitchcock moment lodged firmly in my brain, which is why I have not actually TRIED to grab the bird? Or do I just nod with a serene, humble-yet-wisdom-of-the-ages smile?)
While regrouping, we discovered that the bird would fly part way up the flue. I figured that if we could be REALLY quick, we could put the bag UNDER the flue when he did that so he would fall into the bag. We called this "Plan B" and were quite proud of ourselves of coming up with TWO (wholly useless) plans.
Wonder Sweetie called when my right arm was deep in the bowels of the woodstove. After I extricated myself, he mentioned that he has BIGGER black bags (drum liners) in the garage. EXCELLENT. As I walk in with my newly acquired SUPER big black bag, I hear Precious hollering from downstairs at the top of her lungs "PLAN B! PLAN B!". I raced downstairs, but was too late to implement Plan B--the chickadee had come back out of the flue.
Anyway, Wonder Sweetie saved the day...again. The drum liner actually fit over the WHOLE hole. Little Man and I managed to hold the edge of the bag around the outside of the hole. Then we waited. I tried to make the bag look more open by stretching it out, and Little Man kept peeking in with his flashlight to see where the bird was. Eventually we were rewarded with the sound of bird feet on plastic. The bird got dumb enough to explore the liner, and Little Man and I got the bag closed without much of a problem.
We let the bird go, then let the cat go. He went right down to the woodstove and actually put a paw on the handle trying to open it! (He has figured out that handles and doorknobs are the key to happiness. I thank the Lord that He did not give cats opposable thumbs!).
It's a good thing those little birds are cute! We might have had chickadee soup for supper!
Yeah, Plan B is NOT going to work....
Wonder Sweetie saves the day!