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.