Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tippi Hedren Has Nothing on GayProf

A few days ago, I came home from work late after having met a friend for dinner. While I should have been focusing my energy on the Never-Ending-Research- Project- of-Doom, I decided to zone out a bit on the couch. Every so often, a ruckus came from the chimney of my wood-burning stove. Cat had also suspiciously positioned himself directly in front of the window of the iron box. At first, I figured that the sound was soot being dislodged as the house settled. The past week has brought colder temperatures and I believed that it made sense the that metal would change shape a bit.

Then the sound became much louder. Given that it was much too early for Santa Claus to be appearing in my hearth, I decided more investigation was necessary. When I opened the top of the stove, I was a bit alarmed to see a pair of eyes staring back at me. Somehow a finch had flown down the chimney and into the stove through the open flue. Once inside, he had no idea how to return and only accomplished coating himself in a thick layer of soot as he banged against the metal walls.

It made me wonder, why is my little cottage so vulnerable to wildlife? First the bees, now the crazy-ass finches? See? I don't need to go camping. Nature comes to me. Now if only forest animals would help me dress in the morning like they always did in those Disney films. . .

Whatever the case, I consider myself a friend to the aves world. Getting the little guy safe and out of danger appeared as a noble cause. Thus, I tossed Cat into the basement (who was clearly imagining a Thanksgiving dinner with the finch as the guest of honor). Given that my back door is a straight line from the wood-burning stove, I imagined that the finch would easily fly out. With the door open, I unhinged the front of the stove, let the bird loose, and triumphantly hummed "Born Free."

It turns out that this was not the smartest finch in the flock. He immediately flew straight into the ceiling and then fell onto the floor a bit dazed. Above him, he had left behind a black-soot impression of his body. It’s kind of like the Shroud of Turin, only with a finch.

Then started the really annoying bits of the evening. Once the finch recovered, he flew everywhere in the house – into the kitchen sink, into the bedroom, into the office. Everywhere he went, he left behind a blaze of feathers and grime from the fireplace.

Finally, I managed to once again shoo him towards the open back door. He landed at the top, paused, and lowered his head to feel the blast of cold air from outdoors. He then promptly flew back into the living room. Maybe the bird wasn’t as dumb as I thought.

For about an hour, I contemplated numerous ways to trap the bird without actually harming him. My failed efforts involved a towel, a laundry hamper, and a shot of tequila (Okay, that last one really wasn’t about getting the bird out, but it sure was tasty).

Eventually, I opened almost all of the windows and both doors. As the temperature in my house plummeted, the bird finally decided that life might be better where he doesn’t ram himself into the ceiling.

Here are my basic thoughts after this encounter:

    * I wondered if I will soon die of bird flu that the finch brought into my house. This realization prompted a massive (though, I am sure, futile) cleansing campaign once the bird exited. It is the same level of sterilizing and bleach that I would use should Dick Cheney ever show up uninvited to my house.

    * I wondered if one bird managed to make it into the fireplace, does that mean it is going to be a regular occurrence? What will this mean when I actually light a fire?

    * I wondered if there was a way to tell my friends "a bird flew down my chimney last night" that didn't sound like a dirty metaphor for something else.

    * I wondered if I should have fitted him with a radio tag so that I could track him for later study.

    * I wondered if I should have initiated him as the first member of a new bird army that I could eventually use to rule the world.

    * I wondered if I would have been as humane/ calm if it had been a bat rather than a finch.

    * I wondered if the finch was really a genie in disguise and would soon return to grant me magic wishes in exchange for freeing him.

    * I wondered if making this event into a blog entry shows that I really need more interesting things to happen in my life.


Tenured Radical said...

Well, GayProf:

I would consider getting a chimney cover, were I you. Do you intend burning wood in the fireplace this winter?

Or birds?


dykewife said...

call around to fireplace places and see if you can get a cover for the stove stack. i think there are meshes that fit over to prevent bird/bat infestations of flues.

and yes, you would have been as human with a bat, but i think you would have called someone to take care of it for you as opposed to chasing it down yourself.

a valuable lesson was learned today. close all doors to other rooms when freeing trapped animals. also, pounce on them while they're still stunned from running into the ceiling/wall/mirror etc.

Sisyphus said...

I vote for the secret avian army option. Which you could use to attack Dick Cheney.

gwoertendyke said...

i LOVE the idea of you wildly chasing a finch through your cottage, armed with a laundry basket and a shot glass, anxiously glancing at all of the finchy silhouettes.

very funny. now light some fires and approach your awfully scary project.

Adam said...

You're far more humane than I would have been. I would have shut the stove and waited for it to die, or let my cat take care of it. If it were a bat I would have attempted rescue because I'm partial to mammals over aves.

Anonymous said...

When I was in college a bat got into my dorm room. I came back from the bathroom one morning to see it flying in circles around the room. Eventually it flew out into the hallway and fell asleep hanging from the ceiling, and someone else from my hall grabbed it with a towel and threw it out the window. (It woke up and flew away.)

Artistic Soul said...

hahahahahaha - love it. Totally needed the laugh today. Paying bills is always a downer. :)

tornwordo said...

I love the image of the soot splat mark on the ceiling. And are you kidding, we all would have made a blog post out of that. Thanks for sharing!

Scott Prinster said...

...should Dick Cheney ever show up uninvited to my house.

Hera Forbid! The idea of Dick Cheney crawling into your woodstove is the ultimate Halloween shriekfest. I think you should keep the stove filled with kindling and newspaper, with matches always at hand, just in case.

Margaret said...

This is the funniest thing I've read in days-- thank you.

And I second the bird army option. You could wear your sailor outfit-- or, better yet, design your very own Bird Army General uniform. (I suspect it might look an awful lot like wonder woman's.)

Anonymous said...

Condolences on the finch; birds indoors are creepy.

"does that mean it is going to be a regular occurrence? What will this mean when I actually light a fire?"

Something like this, perhaps?

-Hypatia, longtime lurker, first time flaming-squirreler

Antonio said...

That sounds far more interesting than anything that went on during my weekend, which mostly consisted of video games and the occasional movie. Oh yes, and alcohol.

vuboq said...

Where are the photos?

Michael said...

I had a bird come down my chimney once. I arrived home to find the house trashed. My cat, in her frenzy to catch this bird, had knocked over everything: every knick, every knack, every bric, every brac. I spent the better part of an hour shooing this bird out with a dish towel.
Remind me to tell you my snake story and/or my racoon story sometime.

Earl Cootie said...

Stupid finch. You're lucky it wasn't a corvid of some kind. It would have chased you out, locked the door and toasted celebratory marshmallows.

(Yes, this is an exaggeration of monmumental proportions, but I never pass up an opportunity to disseminate pro-corvid propaganda.)

Doug said...

Sounds like you'll do anything to avoid working on your NERPoD.

Dorian said...

I helped my neighbor shoo a bat out of her apartment once. Birds are much easier to deal with.

We STILL don't know how the bats get in, but our unit is apparently the ONLY one in the building which hasn't had a bat visit. So we're not complaining too much.

It's coming home late at night and smelling the skunk but not seeing it that has me worried.

dpaste said...

Just how much more interesting a life do you want? I'm reminded of the Yiddish curse: "May you have an interesting life."

Steven said...

Sounds like you had Halloween decorating in the making. You could tell everyone it was the attack of the ravens. Try a Ziploc freezer bag next time. It's clear and see-through. They work wonders. And prevent finch freezer burn. ;-)

CoffeeDog said...

I too feel like I live in the cabin on Little House on the Prairie, with all the wildlife that seems to find it's way into our house.

Marius said...

I don't need to go camping. Nature comes to me.

LOL. Hm, maybe it didn't want to leave because it was planning to help you dress in the morning. I guess we'll never know. Anyway, I'm glad the bird escaped unharmed.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious. I was wondering how you would've tagged the bird. I mean, who has a basket of radio tags just lying around? Then I realized: what a great way to get a second date. Or more likely, it would go like this:

*ring ring*
GayProf: Hey, it's GayProf.
Guy: Who?
GayProf: You know...from the other night. I did that thing you liked with the whipped cream...
Guy: OH! Yeah. Uh, hi.
GayProf: So, I was wondering...are you busy tomorrow night?
Guy: Oh...sorry, man. I'm visiting my, uh, sister in, um, Pocatello... for the next month.
GayProf: LIAR! You're at the bar up the street! I radio tagged you and have traced your every step since you left my cottage! Don't ever call me, liar!

pacalaga said...

A bat flew into my ex's parents' house one night while they were having a party. If there had been ten stooges in any of those old movies, it would have been similar. At one point they got the filter bag from the pool and trapped the bat, and planned to slide an LP under it to carry it outside, and the mom shrieked, "Not my Ohio State Choral Album!" The four year old heard her mom wondering aloud if it was rabid, and came running in the room. There was much more shrieking, after which the little one cried, "I just wanted to see the bunny, Mama."

Charles CĂ©leste Hutchins said...

lol! What if Dick Cheney came invited into your house?

Bird flu is not so much of a risk, but bats carry rabies! It's not unreasonable to call animal control if you find one in your house. You seriously don't want to be touching a bat. (Also, there's a risk it could turn out to be Dick Cheney.)

Cooper said...

This made me giggle at thought of you bird chasing with a shot glass and laundry basket. "Shroud of Turin" See, if you won't go out to see the wild life, it will come to you. I am now picturing you as Snow White in the scene with all the forest animals gathered around the kitchen window while she sings.

Bardiac said...

I think you're FAR safer with a case of bird flu than with Cheney anywhere near you. (Especially if he's armed and might mistake YOU for the bird...)

At the school where my Mom worked, a bird got into a classroom and the kids were going wild (junior high). My mom SOMEHOW stuck her hand in the air, caught the bird mid-flight, and walked it outside. The kids were utterly blown away. :)

I second the getting a screen idea.

Clio Bluestocking said...

Of course you couldn't work on the Never Ending Research Project of Doom! You had your own Alfred Hitchcock movie unfolding in your living room!

Dorian said...

I spoke too soon about being bat-free...Pete and I had a little furry visitor last night.

Carine said...

Did you actually speak to the finch? That's how it all started for St Francis, you know...

Anonymous said...

Gentle Gayprof, finches' friend,

I agree with the previous two lesbians to advocate a chimney cover or yes indeed, the finches will be back. A man with your love of vintage glassware can't take the risk. While we are sharing lesbian secret lore, here is the gentlest way to deal with intruding birds: if you can manage to toss a towel or dark cloth over them, they should freeze immediately, and thus not injure themselves by thrashing when you catch them. If they can't see, they won't stir. This accounts for the cute little hoods used in falconry.