Well, I gotta tell you a sad tale. We don’t have a cap on our chimney. That, in and of itself, is not particularly sad, I don’t think. But when a young woodpecker ends up behind the glass doors of your fireplace, disoriented and flailing itself against the glass in an effort to get out, well it makes you wonder why you didn’t have a cap installed years earlier. Plus all that thrashing….thrashing….thrashing.
After consulting the Internet, where we go for all of our advice, we were advised not to open the glass doors because it most likely would mean that the bird would escape into the house, flying from room to room, pooping on the furniture and all the walls instead of its firebrick prison with the fake logs and the little gas pilot light. But finally, after she had hit the door so many times in twenty-four hours, we decided to make an effort to get her out. I shrouded Deb in an afghan, with her permission of course, while she opened the doors. On the second try, she was able to grasp the bird despite its loud objections.
Deb took it outside and placed it on the ground where it spread its wings and sat there. Not a good sign. Deb picked it back up and we began giving it drops of water. Then we noticed it had a small twig stuck in its beak. So Deb pulled on it gently to free it from the bird’s beak. Sadly, it was the bird’s tongue. A woodpecker’s tongue is wrapped up in a special canal in its skull. There’s about four inches of it—I guess for getting little insects out of hard to reach places. Who knew? Anyway, it’s hard to put back. But it was a moot point. I guess maybe the bird was injured from all the flailing. There was a moment where it turned and looked at Deb and then it died in her hands. It was really quite sad.
We’re animal lovers around here. Really hated to see her go but I guess that’s life. I just hope that’s not how I end up going. For that very reason, that’s why I resist the temptation of sitting in the fireplace. You know….just sayin’.
If I think of any more uplifting stories of death and suffering, I will not hesitate to pass them along.
P.S. Today, I arranged for a company to come out and put a cap on our chimney to keep the birds out. And if the installer ends up falling down the chimney into the fireplace, we will not let him thrash upon the glass doors for very long. We will try to get him out the first day even if we think he’s gonna poop on the walls. Then we’ll place him in the yard. And we probably won’t pull on his tongue. Always trying to learn from our experiences.