It was about seven years ago that I installed a wood burning stove in our living room. It has been a great addition to the house for both aesthetics and function. In fact, during the fifty-four hour power outage caused by the big snowstorm in late April of ’11 the stove provided us with the only source of heat and a means to cook our food.
In the entire time that we’ve had the stove in the house we have never had a problem with birds nesting in the chimney or coming down into the stove or anything. Not until last week that is.
Because the house is two stories high there must be close to twenty-five feet of stove pipe and chimney coming out of the top of the stove. I’m pretty sure that there’s a bird-screen on the chimney cap, too, so the first bird that breached the screen had to be really determined to make our chimney its home.
Due to the length of our cold, damnable winter we had run out of fire wood a while ago so we weren’t using the stove a lot in recent weeks making it easier for the birds to hang around the top of the chimney. I am uncertain as to the sequence of events but I’m pretty sure it started with one sparrow getting through the screen and making its way down the pipe to the stove itself. Once he got in and chirped away it appears that others followed.
Now, before I go any further with this story I will have to tell you that birds freak me out a bit. I’m not exactly scared of them but they’re off-putting, you know. What with their tiny spindly, scaly feet and beaky faces and weird noises and flapping and caca-ing everywhere and everything…they’re just weird to me. Oh yeah, and they’re stupid, too. They don’t call ‘em “bird-brain” for no reason.
So anyway, Deb’s home for lunch one day and hears something scratching and making noise in the stove and she knows it’s a bird but doesn’t want to open the door and let the damn thing out into the house so she leaves it in there, because birds freak her out, too, especially when they’re invading her house, and she’s hoping that I’ll deal with it when I got home from work.
When I get home all is silent so we go about our business and there’s like six hours of hockey to watch and I don’t particularly want to deal with the bird invasion anyway so I ignore the problem hoping it will go away on its own.
All was quiet for a day or two but then the noises started up again and then they stopped. Deb came home for lunch and there was no noise coming from the stove so she figures someone has to check this out and slowly opens the stove door and finds one of the poor little things passed away in the stove. She suits up like it’s nuclear waste and disposes of the dead bird and thinks that the problem is solved.
She told me about her discovery and I’m thinking I better get a fire going and keep the little buggers from coming down the chimney so I stopped on my way home after work and bought a box of fire logs and I started to get a little fire going. Then Deb gets home from work and I’m showing her how there isn’t a direct hole into the stove from the chimney and how I couldn’t figure out how the birds were getting into the fire box and I was poking into the stove with the poker when two of the blasted things fly out of the stove! Yowza!
I’m not sure which of us had the higher scream but we both jumped back out of the way as the two sparrows flew around the house…thankfully scared s---less! We opened the outside doors and after a few attempts to fly out the windows and walls the birds finally found their way out. I poked around again in the stove as the “EZ-Burn” logs didn’t burn very easy and there was lots of smoke but little fire and AGAIN another of the stupid things flew past my head. Sheesh, how many are in there anyway! Thankfully, three was the answer to that question.
So far so good, though. That was quite enough excitement for us that day. It’s been a few days since the bird fiasco but I guess I’m going to have to fix that chimney cap and make sure we burn a bit more in an effort to keep the invaders at bay.
“Is it worse to be scared than to be bored, that is the question.”-Gertrude Stein (1874-1946).