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Smelly Socks: Baby bird, sans sleigh, flies down the chimney

By By Johanna Bloom
Feb. 28, 2013 at midnight
Updated March 2, 2013 at 9:03 p.m.


Ranch Life

The Mighty Thor, my boys' new miniature poodle, was busy chasing after the various toys that Austin and Jamison were throwing around the den. I am not sure if they were entertaining Thor or if Thor was entertaining them. Suddenly, Thor stopped and slowly walked toward our fireplace, which sits in the center of our den.

The boys and I both jumped as we heard a loud, crashing, squawking, fluttering noise coming from our fireplace. Thor barked his ferocious little poodle bark, and

we all ran to see what was going on. I soon noticed talons holding onto our fireplace screen, shaking our screen rather violently trying to get out.

Although I thought that I had closed our fireplace flue securely and we have a chimney topper on the outside, somehow a bird got past them both and ended up in our firebox below looking for an exit. Frustrated, alarmed and frightened, the bird was now desperate to get out.

Jamison, noticing my shock at a bird appearing in our fireplace, piped up with "Why are you so surprised? Santa does it every year at Christmastime, and he is a whole lot bigger." At that, Austin let out a rather obnoxious laugh, classic behavior for a 12-year-old, "Yeah, Mom, maybe his little bird sleigh is waiting up on our roof."

We did hurry outside, not to check on Austin's sleigh comment but to make sure that our chimney topper was still in place. Upon closer examination, we discovered a small hole in the screen by the corner, so the question of how the bird got in was solved.

After the method of entrance was discovered, we went back inside, and Austin grabbed my iPhone and snapped several pictures for proof when he tells his friends at school. Discussion began with just how we were going to get him out. I do not pretend to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I knew that it was not a good idea to let a wild, scared bird, covered with soot and ashes loose in our house.

Austin suggested that we grab a cat and chunk him inside with the bird. "Mom, come on, wouldn't you like to see that?" he not-so-innocently asked. Jamison agreed, saying that he bet the cat would enjoy it a lot more than the bird would. My level head prevailed, and I dismissed their idea.

Trying to appeal to my boys' tender side, I explained to Austin and Jamison how that bird was someone's child, like they are mine. I continued explaining that I certainly would not want someone putting a tiger in a cage with them if they were trapped.

As if completely planned and on cue, the momma bird must have suddenly realized her baby was missing and set out to get him back. I can only speculate that this was our intruder's mother, as they looked exactly the same except for their size difference.

A loud "bam" resonated through our house once again as the huge bird banged into our den window. Several feathers must have fallen to the ground because our cats suddenly got extremely excited and they immediately began searching for the rest of the bird. After the initial window crash, the momma bird flew to a large tree in our backyard and took her perch. That bird patiently stayed put waiting for her baby.

Apparently, she also notified several of her friends for reinforcements. I was actually afraid to let the boys walk outside for fear that a group of birds would encircle them and hold them for exchange. We seriously had big birds circling above our house. Jamison seeing my eyes wide in disbelief calmly commented, "Uh Mom, this is really getting creepy." I completely agreed.

Clearly the fireplace intruder had to go, and the sooner the better. Austin came running with a sheet he deemed to throw over the scared bird, and Jamison got his favorite flashlight he planned to shine in the bird's eyes to blind him.

Actually, I was impressed with their ideas and imagination; I certainly couldn't come up with a better one. John liked the flashlight idea however he suggested the big net we had in the garage for fishing, instead of a sheet.

The boys intently shined the flashlight into the terrified bird's eyes as the net was gently placed over it. The net was twisted to hold the bird in place, and the bird remained completely still. For a minute, I had visions that the bird died from a heart attack and the giant circling birds would retaliate for the rest of their lives.

The boys opened the door, and the completely still and netted bird was rushed out the door. The net was gently untwisted, and the bird flew straight to his happy momma who was watching and waiting from her tree perch. Reunited, the happy momma and her baby along with their entire entourage flew off. Their departure was a relief to us all. Everybody was back where they belonged.

Simply said, moms and their babies have a universal bond that is not to be messed with.

Johanna is a proud seventh generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at smellysocks@vicad.com.

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