Although the stated purpose of this column is for “Pets and the people who love them,” I’m going to take artistic license and write about a wild bird.
I’ve had limited experience with a bird as a pet. My newly married sister dropped one off at our home when I was a teen. Her mother-in-law was moving and couldn’t take the bird with her, so we wound up with it.
I think the bird’s name was “Corky.” No matter, I didn’t like him.
I preferred pets I could pet and cuddle. Birds aren’t that way. When I would place my finger up to the bars of his cage, he would bite my fingertip. Once, during cage-cleaning, Corky escaped and pooped down the dining room curtains.
Birds poop a lot. That’s why you don’t want them in your house.
Two weeks ago, while bringing in my plants from the porch the night before a predicted freeze, a wren flew in the house. I didn’t notice until my erstwhile guard dog, Dorri, perked up her ears and growled when she heard a strange noise from the kitchen. Seeing nothing, she went back to chomping on her Bully Stick.
There were more noises from the kitchen, so I went to investigate. There, I spied the bird perched on the top edge of the cabinets. I opened the back door and tried to shoo the terrified wren out with a broom. No luck.
It perched on chandeliers and picture frames. Dog, who finds brooms to be great sport, ran after me barking, wanting to get into the game. When the broom wasn’t aloft after the bird, she jumped on the bristles and hung on until I could shake her off.
Exhausted from hollering, arm-flapping and broom-swinging, I closed the back door and called upon Facebook for answers. I received a lot of responses. I guess a bird in the house was a refreshing change from political posts and dire pandemic news.
In a sampling of responses, one fellow was what I called a real bird whisperer. When a bird flew into his garage and refused to exit, he quietly allowed it to exhaust itself, then, instead of swinging the broom aggressively at the bird, he gently offered the bristles as a perch to rest upon and carried it out the door. My frenzied mind never contemplated that approach.
A barber friend of mine trapped the bird between the storm and inside doors, went out the front door, circled the house and opened the back storm door. Pretty clever, that one.
A former co-worker told of quickly ridding her kitchen of a bird intruder when it saw her four house cats approaching and beat it out the back door, pronto.
A high school friend suggested a butterfly net. Another suggestion came from a gentleman, who shall remain nameless, but whom I refer to as “my main squeeze.”
He said it was an omen, that I was subject to having my extremities nibbled away. Sounds like a slow, painful death, but I told him it would take a pterodactyl to get a beak full of my extremities.
An arts community associate told of a bird flying into her hair as though seeking its nest, before flying into the house. She said the hair incident nearly made her go into cardiac arrest, but she rallied enough to run around flailing her arms until she could scare the bird out.
One woman told of employing her trusty broom at different times on a bird, squirrel and a “big, fat mouse.” That’s the kind of fearless gal you’d want backing you up on an African safari.
A distant Michigan cousin told of catching a wild bird in a dishcloth when it slipped in during her grocery-toting trips. She resisted an urge to scream in her “girl voice” that she uses when she chases bats.
A friend who lives on the Elk River said on the very day of my bird misadventure, a wren flew into his screened porch three times. Once, his cat caught it but didn’t know what to do with it and let it go. Apparently, in these days of fine feline cuisine, cats’ pallets have become too refined for raw wild bird.
My attorney offered the use of his 12-gauge. Another friend suggested setting fire to my sofa and smoking the bird out.
Finally, I put the dog in her crate for the night, closed my bedroom door and went to sleep. When I opened my bedroom door the next morning, I nearly stepped in an overnight “gift” my bird friend had left for me. Meanwhile, it’s cheerfully hopping around on a brocade sofa cushion.
After breakfast, I put the dog out in the fenced backyard and opened the front door and picked up the broom once more. With little persuasion, I was able to herd the wren out the front door.
Then, cleanup began. I don’t know how one little bird could contain so much poop. It’s like it hung out for days in my asparagus ferns, holding back, until some old lady left the back door open long enough for it to at last shoot the gap and relieve itself.
That little feathered bombardier must have suffered greatly before delivering its load of ordnance on enemy territory.
— Pets and the People Who Love Them is brought to you on behalf of your friends at the Athens-Limestone Animal Shelter. To adopt a dog or cat, please visit www.limestonepets.org to view available animals and fill out an application. Call 256-771-7889 to make an appointment to visit the shelter and meet your new best friend at 1701 U.S. 72 (behind Limestone Veterinary Clinic).