Bob Howell

Late one afternoon recently, Paula yelled out my name to join her at the back door of the house. Then she called out again ... this time adding my name for emphasis. “Quick, come here.” I sped up my response to her urgent call.

When I got to the kitchen, she pointed through the glass to the welcome mat outside. I saw our community cat, Carl, lying on the edge of the mat staring confidently at a small bird a couple of feet away. 

With my impaired vision of late (that’s a whole 'nother story for another time), I wasn't sure if the bird was dead or alive. In fact, I wasn't sure it was a bird at all. 

To me, it looked like where one of the neighborhood cats had thrown up a hairball. But then it moved a bit, and Carl responded by noticeably flinching.  

“It’s a little bird,” Paula said pointing to the mat, “and I don’t want the cat to eat  him!”

I opened the door to get a better look. It was a frightened critter trying to chart a course to safety. I reacted by opening the door wide enough to reach out to grab the bird before Carl could strike with his razor-sharp claws. 

Instead, the little bird proved to be quite a navigator. Like a feathered bullet (well maybe not that fast), the bird flew between me and the slightly opened door and into the freedom of our great room. Yep, that’s right. The bird, probably a finch, was somewhere inside the house ... we just had no idea where.

Time for a little brain storming ... birdbrain storming if you will.

Paula came up with the idea of placing ourselves in the bird’s point of view as to where he might be hiding. That seemed to be a plausible solution, at least on the surface. 

I ran and got my trusty flashlight and started looking under things. Paula closed all the doors leading out of the great room. After a couple of minutes of searching, the little bird flew out from under the couch and started walking back and forth on the top cushions. He seemed quite happy to be away from Carl and in a room where the two humans pursuing him were at least gentle and moving slowly. 

You’ve got to give it to Paula when it came to the ultimate capture and release of the bird. She ran to the laundry room and grabbed a soft shirt to act as a snare. It worked like a charm. 

The bird flicked back and forth in short hops, up and down along the back cushion until Paula’s soft shirt found its mark. 

She quickly scooped the bird and shirt and make a mad dash for the front door.  She unlocked the door and in one motion stepped out and released the little bird. 

“He’s gone,” Paula shouted from the front door. 

“Good work, everyone,” I replied.

Thus, we have one happy finch, two relieved humans, and one cat who wasn’t really upset... since there was plenty of canned cat food in the pantry.

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