Jun 2, 2013

The Dark Side of Home Maintenance......

For a while now, I have heard the sound of wings in my dryer vent. This told me that I had a bird building a nest in my dryer vent, because I'm quick like that.

I pounded on the wall, turned the dryer on and looked out the window. It was a wren, which is one of my favorite little birds.  I have several birdhouses just for them hanging around the yard, and you would think any one of them with a brain would build their nest there.  Apparently we had a very desperate or possibly brain damaged wren this year.

Yesterday I kept finding Shadow sitting in the laundry room in front of the dryer, stock still, staring at the dryer with her head and ears cocked.  I could hear the bird wings at work in the dryer vent.  Occasionally she would go into a point, with her nose stuck between the dryer and the wall,  All day she kept her vigile, and I knew that it was time to kick the desperate or possibly brain damaged wren out.

I hate is when stuff like this happens.  Last year a brain damaged rabbit dug an nest in the yard and had a bunch of babies.  The dogs, being dogs, found them almost immediately.  We protected them as much as we could, but one by one the picked off the baby rabbits. In desperation, when there were just a few left, we drug their little bodies to the fence and pushed them on the other side and then put the dogs inside.  Our hope was that the mother would follow the smell.  Our mistake was in thinking any mother rabbit who could smell would miss the BIG DOG! TWO OF THEM! smell that has to be all over every inch of our backyard.  It was just my luck to run across Jack with the last baby rabbit in his mouth.  It was struggling valiantly and he refused to give it up.  But he did look very ashamed as he ate the last baby rabbit.  His eyes seemed to say "What?  I'm a dog.  Sorry, but I am a dog.  This is what dogs do, lady/"  It did help a little when I saw him do the same thing to a mouse later in the year, when it was getting cold and all the mice were heading inside for the winter.

So today my Oldest Baby and I drug out the ladder and he climbed up to the dryer vent.  The bird(s) never bothered us, which was strange, but a big relief to me.  It's hard enough to have your child on a ladder, even if he is taller than you, and have to worry about not only trashing a sweet little nest, but also your baby getting dived by angry birds.

Patiently he drug out lint, feathers, and soft grasses.  Presently he announced, "I've got an egg", and gently handed down a copper speckled egg into my palm.  It was much warmer than my body temperature, due to being in a dryer vent, and I worried that we had been baking the brain damaged wren's babies in their shells. Out came another egg, just as warm as the first.  While I was cupping them in my palm and wondering what in the world I was going to to with them, another dropped down, breaking on the ladder and revealing liquid yolk and white, with no beginnings of any baby that I could see.  I figured that either they were too warm to have ever gotten started or maybe (please God) they still had a chance.

With no other option at hand, I strolled over to one of the wren houses and plopped the first egg into the hole.  Nothing happened, all was quiet. So I plopped the other one in, adding a few possibly baked eggs to what I hoped would be several brothers and sisters in their own cozy shells with an attentive mother.  The mother, who I had either awakened or scared to death, took that chance to fly out without a word. This is odd for a wren.  They are very talkative little fellows and this one must have been frightened about to death! While they always seem to be on guard for enemies coming in to steal their eggs, I doubt it ever occurs to them to be on guard for MORE EGGS  to come through the door!  Isn't it cuckoo birds that hide their eggs in other nests?  Well, whatever will be, will be, I guess.

Back inside we scooted out the dryer, removed the........stuff that the vent is made from (silver duct of some kind, made out of a strong aluminum foil type of material) and cleaned out the rest of the lint and grasses out of the dryer vent.  We were very relieved that the wren had not remained in the protect her babies.  That is one nightmare farther than I care to go with 2 dogs in the house.  All we need is a bird flying around!!  That is about the time that the mother was back, trying to get in the now shut vent door flappy thing.  She was pretty determined, and at this time it was just a hole in the wall, so I taped over it.

Tomorrow we will figure out how to put it together again, but it's been quite a day and I'm caught up on laundry.  One thing stands out clearly in my mind, whether those eggs make any baby wrens or not, my dryer  will most assuredly run much better now. If I might make a suggestion, cleaning out your dryer vent should probably be done periodically. Like, at least every year or so. I won't tell you how many years it has been since I have attended to this, mostly because I don't think I ever really have before.  Many years ago, when this first happened, I had to teeter on the top most ladder rung in order to use a clothes pin to attach a little mitten, the size that would fit a 3 year old child, to it so the birds would smell human and steer clear. It worked for enough years that by the time we took it down today, one of those 3 year old children didn't even have to get on the top 3 rungs of that ladder and could reach in easily.  I keep forgetting how big these boys have gotten, even when I look at them and stand next to them every single day.

I have checked a few times under the wren house. There are no broken shells under it.  So far. My hope is that the mother wren with sense enough to make her nest in the house provided will have a few more babies than she originally thought.  If she does, and if she gets really tired trying to feed all those babies, perhaps there will be another wren willing to help with that. That is probably just a fantasy, I freely admit it, but I can dream, can't I?  It's a much better story than the where the brain damaged mother searches and searches until she becomes so depressed that she flies down to play with some cats and it's all over just like that.

Sigh........home maintenance can be dark sometimes.  

Next time I'm heading outside as soon as I hear bird wings in the vent or Shadow started stalking the dryer again, whichever comes first.