I apologize for the length of this post. I know I tend to write a lot just in general, but there's a lot to this story, so bear with me. The Army Man said he can never finish my posts because they are so long, but too bad for him. He lived today's post, so he doesn't need to read about it anyway.
So today started like any other Saturday. I took Laura downstairs, got her started on breakfast, and went into the dining room to check my email. Our dining room is at the front of the house (and ironically enough, does not house a dining table) so I typically hear plenty of street noise when sitting at the computer. This morning was no different. I heard what sounded like banging and scratching, but I couldn't figure out what it was. After a little while it was time to face facts. There was an animal somewhere in the house. A quick scan of the dining room revealed nothing except a mess and Moxie. So it wasn't anything inside the house, which was a relief as last year a lizard broke into the dining room and did not want to leave.
I didn't really have time to worry about it though since we were all heading out soon thereafter for a walk/run at the local walking trail. There is so much more to the story that I can't even begin to go into, so I will just jump straight to the exciting part. Once we returned home, the noise was still so intermittent that we just couldn't figure out where exactly the noise was coming from, or what kind of animal it was. Finally we figured out that it was a bird, and it was stuck in the gutter-our totally awesome gutters that are buried underground and provide fantastic drainage during storms. This particular gutter stretches from the very top of our two story house all the way down into the ground, so apparently the poor creature fell in at the very top of the house, went all the way to the bottom, and all the noise we heard was it flapping, trying to fly back to the top.
When we first started hearing the noise, the Army Man said he would try to take the gutter apart tomorrow and check things out. It quickly became apparent that an emergency search and rescue was necessary. He unscrewed all of the handy screws, prepped the gutter for removal, and-nothing. It wouldn't budge. As we were trying to figure out what to do, the bird started going insane! The noise and flapping were horrible and I almost started crying (I know, I'm a dork) at the thought of the poor thing trapped in there. We figured our best bet was to dig up the ground, remove the end of the gutter, and let it fly out.
Too bad the person who owned the house before us was so awesome and laid a really, really long pipe leading away from the gutter. We would have had to dig for several feet to remove it all. I gave to official command-cut the pipe. We had to get that bird out! A cut pipe would have been cheaper than dead bird removal anyway. Just as the Army Man was about to cut, he noticed that if we dug some more, he would be able to separate the drainage pipe from the gutter. After some frantic digging, viola! It was apart and the bird was free to go.
But no bird appeared. We debated what to do. The Army Man wanted to flush the bird out with water. I didn't know about that, so I sent Laura to retrieve the flashlight so we could look in. Maybe it was in there, but injured. The Army Man went inside to wash his hands and get the camera in case the bird ever appeared. We all stood around waiting for a few minutes. The Army Man decided to snap a picture of our work, and just as he was turning on the camera, a yellow beak appeared. We all gasped, and a surprisingly large black bird emerged and flew away, just like that. The camera (which we hate) was still deciding if it wanted to take pictures or not, and thus no picture of the bird was taken.
We were surprised that the bird was so big and that it emerged from the underground pipe and not the gutter. It must have really been far down! I think we were all feeling pretty good-the bird was saved and obviously not hurt, no damage to the house or gutter other than a small section of yard dug up, and Laura got to help in the rescue mission. As we stood there, discussing the incident, ANOTHER BIRD FLEW OUT OF THE PIPE!!!!
I had to use all capitals, because words simply cannot describe our shock. I am pleased to report that everyone's reactions were appropriate-Laura squealed, the Army Man loudly and deeply said, "Whoa!" and I screamed like a girl. It was so shocking, so funny, so weird. These were good sized birds. How did they fit down there? How did TWO of them manage to fall or fly down the gutter? And what exactly were they doing down there?? I'm concerned that they were trying to start a family and we'll soon find all sorts of baby birds in our gutter.
For now, we left the gutter and pipe open and separate in case anything else decides it needs to vacate the area.
Just a picture of our handy work, so you can visualize everything. We searched the internet for clues to the indentity of our visitor, and the best we came up with was the European Starling which do live in North America, despite what the name implies. Go check out the picture so you can get a good idea of what it was like to see a bird that size fly out of our gutter pipe-twice!