We’ve been at my parents’ the last three nights enjoying the ending of pool season. Every night we watch a giant flock of birds swarm around their bedroom chimney. There’s been some debate on whether those birds were actually going into the chimney. Mom knew she had a bird, maybe a whole nest of birds in there because they could hear them at night, but she said there was no way all fifty or so birds could be living in there. My sister Becky and I watched and it sure appeared that they were darting into the chimney, but it was hard to tell from that angle. Eventually there were no birds left.

Being an inquisitive sort….

Of course I couldn’t just let it go without finding out for sure whether there was a whole flock of birds in my parents’ bedroom chimney. I told them to stay there and watch the chimney. I was going inside to start a fire.

I removed the little fireplace screen and tossed a few Kleenexes in the fireplace. I got a match  and then because I would never want to cause any harm to their lovely house by making it smell like smoke, I reached in to open the flue.

The noise was akin to standing beneath a helicopter when it takes off. A massive whirling, fluttering noise rose up over my head and immediately birds came pouring out of the fireplace. I smashed the fireplace screen over the opening, but the fireplace tools were in the way, keeping it from falling flush against the brick. Dozens of birds were flapping, their little claws poking my fingers through the screen, their soft bodies squeezing between the screen and the brick where the fireplace tools were leaving space. They were determined to get into the house.

I started yelling to see if anyone was in the house. I needed to get the fireplace tools out of the way because one by one, birds were squeezing through the gaps and flying around the bedroom, but I knew if I let go of the screen, dozens of birds would flood in. No one was in the house. Both hands were holding the screen, so I started blowing on the birds, yelling at them, hoping to scare them back up the flue. Surely one of my family members would come inside and check on my experiment… but no. I was on my own.

Eventually, more and more of them found their way back up the chimney and I was able to toss the tools aside so the screen fit flat over the hole. All while dodging the darting birds that had made it into the bedroom. Finally there was only one left in the fireplace. I put something heavy against the screen to hold it in place, then went outside to get the swimming pool net and start rounding up the birds inside. There was the family, watching the chimney.

“Gina, you wouldn’t believe how many birds were in the chimney!”

Yep. I think I would. In fact, y’all didn’t even see them all, because some are still flying around the house.

So much for my science experiment. My parents are so proud.

the bird

This poor bird came down the chimney, got squished in the fireplace screen, flew into a light fixture where it was trapped until we got it out with a pool net. Now it’s too tired to fight off the kids.


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