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whoooooo’s in my house?

Posted: March 4th, 2004 | Author: | Filed under: critters, house | 10 Comments »

I came home Tuesday night just in time for the start of Gilmore Girls. I was looking forward to a quiet night on the couch after a stressful couple of days. I threw my stuff on the kitchen table and went over and flipped the TV on. A minute or so later, I went back to adjust the volume. As I did so, I heard some rustling coming from the plant on top of the CD case in the corner. It struck me as odd, since Fiona (the cat) is not able to get up there, and even if she could, there’s no room for her anyway. I went to shoo her away, because two of my favorite ceramic pieces live on the top of that case, as do some other breakables.

Much to my surprise, it was not Fiona up there, but a good-sized screech owl. A quiet, mellow, Fiona-colored screech owl, but a screech owl nonetheless. After a moment of panic and trying to remember if owls have a tendency to get pissed off and peck your eyes out or something, and being paranoid about how it might have gotten in, I decided to just call Mom to ask her whom I should call. She didn’t believe me at first. After I convinced her that it was for real, she suggested calling the police. I’m not sure that they believed me either, but they put in a call to the dogcatcher (?!?) to call me back.

Sometime in the middle of all this I saw Fiona saunter casually into the bedroom, and promptly shut the door so she’d stay in there. I don’t know how she managed to not notice Screechy’s presence, as she gets hyped over birds on the outside of the house all the time, nor do I know why Screechy wasn’t more upset about Fiona’s presence. Maybe there’s some kind of owl/cat nonaggression pact in force that I don’t know about.

While I was waiting for the callback, I grabbed the camera and took a few pictures so that I could prove it happened, and propped the front door open, hoping Screechy would take the hint and fly out. He showed his rather large wingspan and moved from the plant to the curtain rod. Then I called my friend Sara to see if she could send her brother over. He didn’t believe her, but nonetheless came over. As we stood there staring at Screechy (whooo was quite content to sit quietly on the curtain rod and follow me wherever I went with his eyes) trying to figure out what to do, the dogcatcher called back. His helpful advice was to prop the door open and try to shoo it out. Thanks.

Screechy was entirely unfazed by my waving magazines in his general direction. I didn’t want to get close enough to be in pecking range. Bill went to fetch his fishing net, while I went downstairs for the broom. Bill nudged Screechy with the broom while I held the net in one hand and a magazine in the other. Screechy took a lap around the living room before he decided the best place to perch next would be on Bill’s pant leg. Once the surprise wore off, Bill started moving slowly toward the door. Screechy hopped off about halfway there, at which point I was able to put the net over him and trap him in there with a newspaper. I took him outside, where he was quite content to sit in the net and stare at me some more.

After I closed the door so he wouldn’t be tempted to go back in, we nudged him enough to get him to hop out of the net. He hung out on the lawn long enough for me to worry that he had been hurt, then took off and settled on a branch in the dogwood tree. I thanked Bill profusely for his help.

Throughout all of this, Screechy made no noise at all, other than a little wing-flapping. He didn’t seem particularly upset about being in the house, or being in the net, or anything at all. I told him that he was a beautiful bird and a nice addition to the decor, but would probably be much happier outside.

Best I can figure, he came in through the chimney. There’s an open vent near the furnace in the basement that goes into the chimney, and there was a bunch of dirt and debris under it when I went looking Tuesday night. I’ve temporarily made it less open with some strips of duct tape, but I need to get someone up on the roof to rig some kind of wire mesh contraption up there so critters can’t get into the chimney in the first place.