Last weekend, in Maine, I began hearing sounds in an unused chimney that runs behind the kitchen stove. At one time, obviously, there had been a woodstove there because there is still a (covered) opening where a stovepipe had once been connected.  I was afraid, though, to take that cover off because I was afraid an entire family of trapped squirrels would leap out at me if I did. The noise...chirping, chittering, skittering...was periodically very loud, other times completely silent.  Finally I called Tom, my exterminator, who previously had had to deal here only with the ubiquitous mice, plus once with powder-post beetles in the barn. He said he'd come Friday.

Then I went to Cambridge for three days, for a dental appointment and to do a reading at a writers' conference.  A friend had told me how squirrels—or maybe just one squirrel—had gotten trapped inside her country house, and had chewed through all the window frames in an attempt to escape before dying of starvation on her bed. I worried a bit about my trapped squirrels in their desperation pushing open that stovepipe cover and destroying my house...but when I returned here, Thursday, the opening was still closed, but the noise in the chimney was still substantial.

Tom came Friday morning.  Here you can see him at the opening over the stove...he had a mirror and a flashlight, but couldn't see what was obviously lower down inside the chimney.  So he went around to the back side of the chimney where it goes through the laundry room, and you can see him there (with Alfie's head, watching)  Finally, after having identified them with his light and mirror, he carefully lifted out two young birds. My guess is that they fell from a nest up on the top of the chimney. The mystery is what they had been living on for 10 days or so. They were chubby and feathered but unable to fly.

Tom laid them under a bush by the back door. When we went to check on them later, they had staggered out and limped/fluttered into the driveway and one onto a stone wall surrounding a garden. I lifted the second one into that garden and the first one made it on his own.  Where they are now...whether they survived..I don't know.

I do know that if I had been eight years old, I would have made a nest in a shoe box and put worms into the Cuisinart and given them names. The birds, not the worms.

Tom, above stoveTom & AlfieBird caughtBird on wall