Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Is this a STARLING I see before me?

So there I was this afternoon, sitting at my desk, eyes glazing over as I stared at the computer screen, when a bird flew by. No, not "flew by my window": FLEW BY! It came down from upstairs with Naomi-kitty in excited pursuit. Now, I know how that bird got in the house, but I do NOT know how the hell it got upstairs without me noticing, nor how long it was up there! Clearly I was in a computer stupor.

This is not a great house for a bird to visit. We have three cats and two somewhat prey-hungry dogs. Twice last summer, we had young starlings in the house. They fell down the chimney and landed in the firebox of the (unlit!) furnace. Fortunately I was home the first time an uncoordinated starling tumbled down the chimney, because the door to the firebox was closed tight. I opened the door and rescued the confused youngster. (Now I know to leave the furnace door slightly ajar in baby-bird season.)

We did indeed mean to get a chimney cap last year, to prevent this very thing from happening, but our chimney sweep dude was out of stock. He said he was going to order one but it never did turn up. Gordon called him today to schedule our chimney cleaning for this season and to order a cap, again.

So back to today's avian adventurer. Usually these chimney-tumblers don't leave the basement, but today our young starling decided he was going to explore every corner of our house. Fortunately after he flew past my office, he landed in the downstairs bathroom, so I shut myself in there and caught him. He was not pleased at being held and let me know by releasing bloodcurdling screams that made the dogs and cats even more excited. Nonetheless, I got him outside and released, no harm done.

Not five minutes later, I hear a very familiar sound coming from the basement: yes, bloodcurdling juvenile starling screams, and oh no, the sound of a three-legged cat thumping along in tepid pursuit. Screaming "Nononooooo!", I ran after the dogs and Julius-kitty as they peeled down the basement stairs. Julius was sufficiently freaked out by my yelling to stop, as were the dogs, ("What the hell is wrong with mummy? Is she on drugs??") but Alex continued to hop along after the bird, undeterred by my screeching. I managed to grab him and get all the other pets up out of the basement, closing the door behind them. Then I switched off the lights and let the starling fly to a window, where I once again performed a grab-and-run, with the bird once again releasing screams reminiscent of the shower scene from Psycho.

It was a little stressful. I definitely see a yoga class on tonight's agenda. Stoopid birds!

ADDENDUM: This morning, I had to go through this post and change every occurrence of "grackle" to "starling." Why? Because this morning I was rudely awoken by a bird screaming in the basement. I went down there and rescued another young bird from the paws of Naomi, who was no match for the feisty feathered foundling. (Alliteration, I love that.) I had a proper look at the bird in my hands and realized that of course they were all starlings. I had a brain fart yesterday.

The bird seemed fine and flew away strongly, hopefully having learned not to sit on our chimney. Or maybe the same bird has fallen down it three times now!


  1. Okay, so now I'm confused. Starlings or grackles???
    We had a DUCK come down the chimney a few years back. Oh dear!

  2. Starlings, for sure. But no ducks! Wow!


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