First stovepipe bird of the season…

Was a small finch of some sort. It’s the second-most likely culprit next to sparrows. This one didn’t spend too much time avoiding the inevitable once I opened the stove door and let in some light, he came blasting out in a cloud of soot – startling the hell out of Laddie – and smacked directly into the kitchen window.

I shut Torso Boy in the bedroom and opened the front door, trying to herd the stupid thing out of the cabin. Of course it ignored all open exits, preferring to throw itself sharply against closed windows like its dear old pappy had taught it. This went on until it got a good running start and damn near brained itself against the front window.

At that point rescue became much easier, as I could simply reach between the wall and the reading chair and pick him up while he was stunned. He didn’t shake it off until we had stood at the porch railing for several seconds at which he regained enough of his marbles to realize he was sitting in a human’s open hand and should probably fly away.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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11 Responses to First stovepipe bird of the season…

  1. czechsix says:

    Next time, easiest thing is to darken the windows with shades (if you’ve got them in hermit land), and just open the door. Bird will fly towards the light.

  2. Beans says:

    And get some metal screening and put it on your flue. You need/want to put a spark arrestor thingy on, don’t want to set the scrub on fire one cold night.

    Just simple hardware cloth will work.

    Come on, you know you want to.

  3. Joel says:

    I’d have done the hardware cloth thing years ago if I could get up on my own roof. Too much of a slope for a stiff old one-legged acrophobe.

  4. Robert says:

    I wanna know how the bird-brain ends up in the predicament in the first place. I can’t imagine he would think “Oh, look, a deep dark hole. I think I’ll hop in.”

    We had a wood duck in the stove once. He seemed happy to leave.

    Joel: Is it a straight shot to the top of the pipe? I’m wondering if you could simply push a slightly-bent-and-folded piece of hardware cloth up the chimney and stop just sort of the opening, letting friction hod it in place. I bet you already thunk of it…

  5. Zelda says:

    What Robert said about the bent and crushed piece of hardware cloth. Seems like in all these years some reader must already have suggested it and if you didn’t do it there must be a reason why. Because surely you must have already thunk of it? given that you have stovepipe cleaning brushes and all that. Friction would surely hold hardware cloth up there. Yes given that birds fly toward the light why do they end up going down stovepipes?

  6. Joel says:

    I have thought about it but I think it would cause more trouble and concern than an occasional bird. The pipe is 14 feet long, give or take, and while I have enough chimney brush pole to reach that high how do I keep the screen straight? Also there’s a bit of a restriction halfway up where two sections of pipe don’t mesh very perfectly, I can get a brush past it but probably not a hardware cloth screen – and if I put the screen only halfway up that only gives the bird corpses a place to pile up and make a horrid sort of restriction. So I decided against it.

  7. Joel says:

    Also I have no hypothesis as to why small birds keep doing this. Perch on the weathercap, sure, but how often has anybody seen a healthy bird fall off a perch? And I can’t imagine what’s the temptation to go down there deliberately. What’s sure is that birds can’t fly straight up, so once they start down the best they can do is station-keep until exhaustion and wing impact lands them in the stove.

  8. Howard says:

    I think a crumpled piece of hardware cloth would make a fine creasote trap. Don’t do it! We more often have a bat in our stovepipes than birds!

  9. Beans says:

    Well, next time young and sprite Gun Jesus comes over, unless his kryptonite is heights, get him to do it.


    Maybe put a full weather cap on it with anti-spark/anti-critter screen.

    Best do it before Zelda starts getting on your case about it. You know she will…

  10. Jamming hardware cloth upwards partways would be a bad idea. Birds would still get in (and not be able to get back out) and would eventually dessicate. You don’t want any buildup of flammable material in your flue – esp. if you allowed creosote to build up. (not that you do…)

    Even with a covered ventcap the spark screen will wear out – the creosote and wood ash (alkaline) took about 8 years to eat ours away.

    A couple of years ago a swarm of bees tried to set up housekeeping in our flue and stove. I walked into the house one afternoon and noticed several bees flying around inside. It took a few minutes to find that the firebox had hundreds of bees inside and small numbers of them were finding their way out of the tiny air intake slot. Turns out that even with the air intake ‘closed’ there was a 3/8″ or so gap that they could work their way through. A strip of duct tape stopped them from coming into the house – but there was still the issue of the swarm in there.

    The wild bees around here are considered to be fully hybridised with the “killer bees” – so any dealings with them need to be carefully considered. Opening the firebox – even quickly – would allow bees into the house – so that wasn’t much of an option. I’ve used smoke to discourage swarms to move on – but I had to figure out a way to apply the smoke into the box and flue. I wound up using my bee smoker and 15′ of tubing connected to a fabricated adapter that fit over the air intake of the stove. I had to use the tubing as I didn’t want to smoke up the house too – so I ran the smoke inside the firebox via the tubing. It took about 24 hours of exposure to the smoke for them to decide to find a better home.

    Now when we’re not using the stove during the warm seasons I use a layer of aluminum window screen over the 3/8″ spark screen to keep that from ever happening again. Thankfully the bees are less likely to swarm in the winter when I remove the window screen.

  11. (edit)
    … smoke to ENcourage swarms to move on…

To the stake with the heretic!