Spring is in full force and the birds are living it up. Yesterday, I discovered the neighborhood hawk’s nest around the block. The crabapple tree outside my window is a playground for wrens, chickadees, cardinals and the occasional woodpecker or bluejay (those guys are stinkers). On days when the pollen isn’t prohibitive, I wake up to the bird chorus streaming in my open windows.
A couple of days ago, one of those punch drunk wrens flew into the breezeway of my building and found its way upstairs, where it got stuck. I don’t know much about birds, but I’m guessing that “down” is not their preferred method of escape. This little wren spent HOURS peck-peck-pecking at the skylight out in the hallway, trying to escape through several solid layers of steel and plexiglass.
This has happened before, so the racket outside my door didn’t alarm me as it might have otherwise. I knew that sound of desperate bird taking desperate measures. I peered through the peephole in my door and got a glimpse of the trapped wren swooping back and forth a couple of times.
How do you save a bird pecking its way through a plexiglass skylight? How do you convince it to go DOWN instead of UP? It was far too high for me to try to catch, and I was pretty sure that no amount of coaxing or logic would convince it to go down the stairs and out the front entryway. I turned to the internet. “If a bird is stuck in your house,” the internet told me, “close all the windows and blinds except for one – and take the screen out of that one. Darken the house as much as possible, and wait.” The bird would, presumably, find its way toward the light and out the window.
Well, there are no windows in the hallway, and I certainly wasn’t going to let this bird into my HOUSE in order for it to find a window. I contemplated calling maintenance or the animal control number, but figured I’d better get a good look at the thing before I tried to explain it to another person.
I cracked open my door, and craned my neck to see what I could see. Within seconds, the wren caught wind of either the draft or the shaft of light created by the thin opening of my door, and SWOOPED from the high ceiling directly in my direction. I slammed the door shut.
But the desperate pecking noises stopped. I waited a few minutes. Nothing. Opened the door again, carefully: no bird. Lots of debris on the floor from its escape attempts, but no sign of avian life.
I think what happened was that when I opened my door a tiny crack, the bird saw another way out. My door is right by the staircase, so when it swooped my way, it finally found the tunnel downward and launched itself toward freedom.
I don’t know what to make of that – all I did was crack my door open to see what was happening – but apparently that was all it took. All that poor bird needed was the faint glimmer of another exit plan. One barely visible glint of an alternative light source gave it enough oomph to get free.
So, I don’t know: I hope, if you are stuck and in search of a faint glimmer of an alternative, that someone opens a random doorway a tiny crack so you can see another way. And I hope, if you are trying to figure out how to ease someone else’s escape, that you’ll manage to open your own doorway an infinitesimal sliver – that might be all it takes.