The Broken Wing
While taking a shower the other afternoon, Jenni came into the bathroom and announced “There is a Titmouse flying around inside the sun room.” I told her to be sure the door to the rest of the house was closed and I would take care of it in a minute. In our house, I am responsible for all flying creatures—birds, stink bugs, wasps, and even flying squirrels.
Before we remodeled where we live now, the structure was just a double garage with one long room upstairs. We called it 'the cabin' and loved the rustic feel of spending weekends in it. On one occasion we were awakened in the middle of the night by our son Kyle who was sleeping upstairs in a bunkbed. He yelled that Smokey (the cat) had something trapped in the bed above him. I went to investigate. Sure enough, our male hunter-cat had cornered a flying squirrel in the bunkbed above our son. Not to be contained, it made a dash to the top of the stairwell and then proceeded to launch itself into the air as it “flew” down the stairs straight for Jenni who was standing at the bottom of the landing! I considered yelling to her to 'catch it' but she would have never heard me over her own screaming. If the little critter could have turned around in mid-air I’m sure it would have to avoid the hysterical woman waiting at the bottom. After a search behind boxes downstairs, during which time both cats got bored and walked away, I was eventually able to corner the scared little bugger and toss him outside. (He was probably back in the attic by daybreak.)
So I have quite an established resume when it comes to catching flying things in the house. I find the trick is to remain calm. There was no need to rush my shower; the bird wasn’t going anywhere.
But then Jenni came back with an update: “There is a bird’s wing laying on the floor!” In my mind our personal Homeland Security warning system had just ratcheted up from yellow to a code red! I shut off the water, grabbed a towel and my glasses, and dashed to the sun room doorway. Sure enough, that did look like a bird wing on the floor but there was still an intact Titmouse beating itself against the glass on the other end of the room, trying to escape. In fact, there were now TWO Titmice in the room completely incapable of finding the open door they had used to enter the room. This was starting to feel like some kind of strange dream.
While certainly unpleasant, the prospect of dealing with severed body parts was not a foreign idea to me. When we had cats that were free to come and go through a pet door, we often had to chase them down to remove wildlife from their jaws. The male cat (Smokey) was usually proud of his work and would often drop living animals (lizards, birds, cottontail bunnies) at our feet; but the female (Cara) chose to dash-and-stash her kill. We never knew what we might find under the bed each year as we pulled out the boxes of Christmas china stored underneath.
Back to the current situation, we opened the door from the living room to the sun room and slipped in without letting Annie, our dog, follow. I reached down to examine the severed wing (which it truly was!) and immediately began to chuckle. It was CERAMIC! Ha! The real birds had knocked a Schatzki bird off a shelf and broken a wing. I found the “body” a few feet away.
Knowing I didn’t have to catch a bloody, maimed bird made the next step much easier. One by one, I cornered the two Titmice (by the way, I researched the plural of Titmouse and it’s acceptable to use Titmice or Titmouses but the former rolls off the tongue much more pleasantly.)
Each of the birds felt it necessary to thank me for saving them by biting down on the tender skin between my thumb and pointer finger before being released.
As I write this, there are about a dozen Titmice gathering outside the sun room windows as if they are plotting something sinister.