As I was getting ready to head out to work a Mad Science birthday party, I heard a sort of scrabbling sound coming from the chimney of the wood-burning stove-style fireplace in the living room. I figured it was some bird hopping around on the cap of the chimney and left.
When I got home, I heard the sound again. I didn't know if it was a bird or a squirrel or what, so I clambered up onto the roof to see if I could deduce anything. The chimney has a cap that allows about three inches of room for something to get into there, but, oddly, there was no mesh or anything to keep any curious critters out. And so I set about trying to loosen the screws holding down the cap, so I could look down into the chimney. Naturally, it was full of soot, so visibility was crap. I thought maybe if I lowered a rope or something, whatever was in there might be able to climb out. At this point I figured it was a baby squirrel or chipmunk or something. But as I got the cap off, I heard the flutter of wings...some sort of bird had wound up in my chimney. And the thing I tried lowering had gotten itself stuck (it's still stuck, for the record. the handle broke loose when I tried to pull it up. Blast.)
So I went with Plan B...I opened the flue and listened to see if the bird might drop down. And it did. I saw a wing flutter inside the fireplace and reached up to gently grab the poor thing, and drew out a soot-covered sparrow. It struggled a bit, but let me hold it gingerly and take it outside. It perched on my hand, sort of dazed. I asked mom to grab some water for it, but it wasn’t interested. It did seem happy to get some birdseed, though (millet, cracked corn, black sunflower seeds, the usual songbird blend that the sparrows in the backyard gorge themselves on). I took him out back, hoping that I could set him down and get him to wash some of the soot off, but he nibbled a bit more, and then flitted into the bushes in the back.
I've peeked out there several times since, and seen a rather dark sparrow hopping around and pecking at the seed on the ground, so he's still there. I'm reasonably certain he can still fly, as he got from the ground to the branches of a bush with no issues, but I haven't seen him out and out fly up into a tree or anything. I'm hopeful he's just tired from spending 6 hours or more in a chimney, and not injured. He flapped both wings successfully when I pulled him from the stove, so I don't think there's any injury, but who knows?
Anyway, while I was up on the roof, I cleaned out the gutters. And then I reassembled the chimney cap.
A surprisingly eventful afternoon, really.