Last Thursday, several OCAS Board Members received a message from Gale Hurd with the troubling first line:

“I think a bird has flown down the chimney and gotten trapped in the
wood stove in my office.”

It just so happened that I had a meeting with one of the other recipients of that email, Barb Otsuka, shortly after getting that message. When I arrived, Barb asked if I had gone to investigate, and I told her I didn’t know what to do about it because I didn’t have a net. Then Barb informed me that she had a butterfly net on a pole we could use. And so we decided to go together to see what we could do.

When we arrived things were decidedly silent. Not even tapping on the stove brought evidence of a bird inside. We began to wonder if we were too late, but suddenly without prompting, there was a fluttering noise from within.

Ascertaining that there was indeed something inside, the next trick was to open the Garrison Stove, which has a pair of iron doors on its front. The key to open it was long lost according to Gale, but we were able to achieve the feat by using a pair of needle nose pliers in a way they were never intended to be used.

Our plan was to open one of the doors and hold the butterfly net in front of the opening in hopes the bird would hop into. I was on the door, and Barb was on the net. But when I popped open the door nothing happened but some more fluttering. We tried knocking on the stove again to get it to jump out, but no go.

Perhaps it was too big to fit out one door, but revealed a problem. Barb’s net wasn’t wide enough to cover the entire opening if both doors were open. So onto Plan B.

We closed up the shades to all the windows in the room, and the adjoining kitchen, which already had all other doors leading to it closed. Then we opened up a big patio door. This time we hoped that with both doors open, the bird would hop out, see the huge opening to the outdoors and fly away.

Once again I was on duty on the stove, this time using the butterfly net pole to open it up. As soon as I pushed it open, out came the bird which plopped on the floor in front of us. And now we could finally see what it was. A female American Kestrel!

I barely had time to say the name of the bird before it took off, headed right for the open doorway as planned only to fly up and land at the top of the door frame.


I tried slowly approaching it with the net to try to catch it or shoo it out the door. But it didn’t like that at all and flew into the kitchen where it landed on a shelf. Another attempt at moving towards it ended with it flying back into the office where it crashed into a window shade, fell onto a chair, and then to the floor, where finally we were able to get it into the net.

After a little cajoling to make sure it was securely inside the net, we took it outdoors to the deck where we took a brief moment to take some pictures of it. After which I gently shook it free from the net, and a leaped strongly into the air flying away to the sounds of alarmed songbirds surprised to see a Kestrel suddenly flying overhead.

And so, hearts racing, we left proud of the success of our rescue mission.