Rescuing Bluebirds, a Responsibility to the Wild

So I was sitting at the computer in my studio working on the blog and Kim was at his easel painting (see previous post A Very Mini Artist’s Colony in New Mexico) when we heard a disturbing, rather frantic noise coming from, of all places, the pipe of the wood stove. We made a beeline for the pipe and so did the cats (they’re not descended from the great cat predators for nothing). All was quiet for a bit as we stood listening. Suddenly, there it was again. Kim and I looked at each other and both said, “A bird!” simultaneously. A bird had come down the pipe. Bummer.

We acted swiftly. Kim put the dogs out and I herded the cats (who wants to try THAT—not fun I can assure you) into the bedroom where I could close them in. And then we readied ourselves for the flight into the studio once we opened the heater door. Soft towels ready, we opened it up. But there was nothing. Maybe it had found its way back out? We listened but there it was again—distressed scraping of wings against the inside walls of the stove pipe.

Kim looked inside the heater and saw that there was a heavy iron plate installed on the roof of the box between the body of the heater and the pipe—one that did not want to be disassembled, and one that trapped the bird higher up in the pipe. I’m so glad Kim was there because he had the confidence to unbolt the chimney itself and take it apart. I wouldn’t have known where to begin.

When we pulled the pipe away from the stove, the bird didn’t fly. Kim saw it and reached in gently to pick it up in his hand. “It’s a bluebird,” he said. As he was carrying it outside, I saw ANOTHER bird in the pipe—its frightened eyes staring at me. I called Kim back and he reached in, carefully, for the second bird. He carried them to the portal. I followed and he asked me to turn on the hose to wash them off a bit. They were covered in soot, the poor dears. I was very nervous about doing this but saw that I could create just a fine mist from the water that had been in the hose, warmed by the sun. I misted our two little wards and they seemed to love it. They fluffed their feathers in Kim’s hands.

Then one of them flew free and Kim released the other. Tears filled my eyes as the two of them joined in the sky, a male and a female, a couple. They flew off together, high up in the blue, that lilting, looped flight that they do, far away and finally out of sight. Kim said it was remarkable to feel their life beating in his hands.

So I’ve called Carlen, the stove guy. He’s coming down right away to reinstall the screen at the top of the pipe that must have blown loose in all that spring wind. And he’ll sweep the chimney while he’s at it. It’s that time of year again.

We humans have encroached on the wild territories and we bear some responsibility. Birds get caught in stove pipes and wolves occasionally take cattle and sheep. After all, we did decimate their primary food source, the buffalo. Coyotes come for our pets and bears rummage through our garbage. Cougars prowl Northwest neighborhoods. We have taken their land and made it our own and we don’t understand why they stick around, why they continue to try to earn a living on land that is no longer theirs.

I’ve just heard that the federal government is ending protections for gray wolves in Wyoming. I saw one headline that read, “Gray Wolf, from Endangered to Hunted.” There has to be some real irony in that. There are 328 gray wolves living in all of Wyoming and it is once again open season for killing them on sight. My heart aches for our mismanagement of this earth and the creatures who are forced to share it with us.

But today two bluebirds flew free over the mountains of northern New Mexico and there is joy to be found in that. Every single life is precious and it is perilous to forget that.

Love to you all,

While searching for images for today’s post, I found this bluebird blog very sweet:

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