Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pest Control: Bird in the Fireplace

You'll have to excuse me if I'm feeling a bit like Jim from the Wild Kingdom this morning...and I guess, my three-year-old son is Marlin Perkins. You see, yesterday afternoon we discovered we had a bird in our fireplace. I heard my wife scream after the little guy banged himself against the glass doors. From there, the adventure began.

I Googled topics like "bird stuck fireplace" and after some reading discovered that throwing a heavy blanket over the thing, wrapping it up, and carrying it outside was the "professional" method for handling the problem. Of course, at least half the stories I read, and some of the online videos, indicated that people had used that method, and others as well, like garbage bags and pillow cases, with varying degrees of success. I was not too excited about this dirty bird - he was black with soot - flying around my house, so, I wanted to make sure I did this right.

Was I scared of the bird? You might say. But, I'd like to say I was just being cautious. I sized up the problem from six different angles, allowed my mother-in-law to half-heartedly try and wrap him up in a towel, before my wife finally got the idea that we should use a fishing net. In the meantime, the bird mostly kept to the back of the fireplace, every now and then hurling himself into the glass doors, and also sometimes disappearing into parts unknown.

Well, when my brother-in-law finally arrived with the net yesterday evening, the bird was nowhere to be found. So, I went skiing..... well, what else was I going to do? When I got back, my mother-in-law, who was watching the kids, and brother- in-law, who had stopped back for his net, had apparently determined the bird had left. They had straightened up the fireplace, and taken the net home.

I was too smart for this trick. Actually, my neighbor, who apparently has dealt with this problem several times, guaranteed the bird would be back. He also recommended the blanket method. So, I went to bed...

This morning, the bird was certainly back, banging his way around the fireplace. I sized up the situation again and made up my mind to do something, as I didn't want to be worried about this all day when I was at work (so, instead, I'm wasting my time on this blog post). My three-year-old woke up, and, of course, wanted to see the bird. I showed it to him and he almost condescendingly suggested I use the blanket. This was interesting because the blanket I was going to use, an old drop cloth for painting, was in the basement, so he had no visual cues. I chalked up it up to an inspired answer, grabbed the drop cloth and went in.

My first toss missed the bird and he hopped over it. Thankfully, he didn't try and fly toward the glass doors or anything. But I realized I was going to have to invest myself in this if I wanted some success. I put on my ski gloves and went in after him, which involved inserting my head inside the fireplace so I could reach the back.

It was actually fairly easy to trap him, as he was either tired, or cooperative, or both. He let me toss the blanked over him and wrap him up without a fight. I tried to wrap him up as best I could to prevent flight, but when I pulled him out he never really struggled. I could see a small piece of some part of him sticking out of the blanket, so I knew I had him. I carefully but quickly walked to the front door, opened it, and threw the whole blanket out. As soon as the blanket touched the ground bird flew swiftly up in the air and into our front-yard tree. He seemed fine after his long ordeal. I shut the door and thanked by three-year-old for his help. He said he wanted to wave good-bye to the bird.

Of course, last week, he also said good-bye to the dead mice I had trapped in the basement. Vector traps, traditional style is what I recommend.


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