Sunday, April 06, 2008

Signs of Spring

Spring has really arrived. How do I know? It isn't because the temperature is rising, or because the snow is melting, or even because the sap is running, although all those things are happening. The problem with those signs is that some or all of them happen even during mid-winter thaws if it gets warm enough for long enough.

The reason I know spring is really here is because when we came home yesterday afternoon there was a bird in the chimney. We have metal chimney that is very tall (20+ feet starting at the 1st floor ceiling) and 8 inches across on the inside. Every spring a young Starling (for some reason it is always a Starling) lands on top, sticks his/her head under the rain cap and wonders "what's down there?". It then proceeds to fall down the chimney. Since it's wing spread is wider than the diameter of the chimney it can't fly back up and out so we hear it scratching around inside the chimney.

If we're lucky we can open up the lower end (which is inside the house) with plastic bag over it and catch the bird which we then deliver to the great outdoors. Yesterday we weren't lucky. The Starling managed to escape the bag inside the house after which a game of 'chase the bird out of the house' ensued. We opened both front doors (can't open windows yet, the storms are still on) and repeatedly prodded the bird from a series of hiding places behind furniture until it spotted an open door and flew out.

Most years that gets repeated 2, 3, 4 or more times before the juvenile Starlings get old enough and smart enough not to fall down the chimney. If we are fortunate however that may be the sole occurrence for this year. We did have one spring when it happened only once. We bought a new pellet stove last December which does not use that chimney so I plan to take it out this summer but then I'll need a new way to tell for sure when spring is really here.

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