Going To The Birds

There are some places where seeing dinosaur descendants would be an everyday occurrence–your back yard, Sesame Street (which has one of the Big variety), the aviary at the San Diego Zoo–but my living room is not one of them. Thus it was notable this evening that I suffered an invasion by not zero, not one, but two animals of the feathered variety in Casa Transterrestrial.

The disconsertion was amplified by the fact that it occurred during dinner, which was occurring in the living room, during a Simpsons rerun, Patricia being up in Reno and thus unable to protect me from the beaky predators as I innocently munched my chicken nachos (were they, Hitchcock-like, lying in wait for me, as I ate their distant cousin?).

I was first alerted to the avian intruders by Jessica. Jessica is the younger cat, who has misleadingly gangly legs, and black fur with a white undercoat, and who seems much too uncoordinated to deal with flying prey.

The elder cat, Stella, is a premiere ratter, having dispatched all the rodents who temporarily took up abode in the garage after discovering my stash of malt and corn sugar, set aside as brewery inputs after I discovered that beer was unacceptably carbohydratic for my newly-discovered relatively paleolithic protein-rich diet. But I’ve never seen her catch a bird, and I suspect that, at age thirteen, her hunting days may be behind her.

Anyway, Jessica was making that peculiar moaning sound, familiar to cat owners, of a cat in pure, unadulterated hunting mode. She was looking up toward the cathedral, wood-beam ceiling at a fluttering apparition in the beams. I saw the motion myself, and went to turn on the track lights to view it better.

It was a hummingbird, frantically beating itself against the ceiling between the beams, attempting to find a way to freedom. Its wings were beating at approximately thirty-four thousand flutters per second. It was clear that it was going to run out of energy in a matter of short minutes at its current rate.

Don’t ask me how it got in–I don’t know now, and I never will.

The ceiling is high on that end of the room. The front door was just below, however, so I opened it. It was late, but the sun wasn’t down, so I hoped that the light coming in would draw it to the Great Outdoors.

Fortunately, after a few minutes, it did indeed come down toward the door. But it didn’t go out. It beat itself against the narrow wall between the open front door and the entrance to the kitchen, in which it perhaps had fantasies of endless supplies of sugar water with which to power its frantic wings.

I gently brushed it toward the open door with my hand and, panicked, it found the opening, exited, and quickly increased altitude. Unlike the living room, it was ceiling unlimited.

Relieved, I sat down to finish my chicken nacho consumption.

Then Jessica started crying and pawing at the fireplace. Now what?

I heard another fluttering of wings in the hearth.

Great. Another bird had flown down the chimney, and was beating itself up in the flue, or in the logs on the grate. The cat was going nuts trying to get to it, and I couldn’t see any way to persuade it to go back up the chimney, or to head outside.

As I sat there, trying to figure out what to do, Jessica finally managed to frighten it into flying out of the fireplace, and toward the glass patio doors in the living room. It was hiding and fluttering in the vertical blinds.

I opened up the door all the way, and got the cat away from it.

Like the hummingbird, I gently brushed it toward the door opening. It found the exit, and fluttered up and away.

Jessica looked up at me, disappointed. She whined a little, and then went outside.

I finished dinner.