I woke up to a scratching sound coming from the wall beside my bed. Had a rodent somehow found its way into our walls? I walked into the cold, cloudy morning and around to the side of the house where I had heard the sound. It was just below the access door to our electrical panel. I opened the small door but nothing was inside other than some wires and dirt. Then I noticed a hole about 3 x 2 inches at the bottom that led to the inside of the wall.
With a flashlight and a mirror my husband said he saw something down there with a blue head. A blue head?! I realized it had to be a bird.
I called Native Songbird Care and Conservation in Sebastopol. They told me that they get these calls this time every year and that it was probably a western bluebird. First-year bluebirds are leaving their families and looking for their own places to roost (sleep) at night for which they use cavities.
A big problem for cavity-nesting birds everywhere are small openings that lead to a vertical space in which they can’t open their wings. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a pamphlet, “Death by Pipe: Birds in Crisis” which explains how open pipes or fence posts or similiarly shaped things are deadly traps for birds. Looking for a nice cavity space, a bird falls to the bottom and can’t get back out.
The opening in the bottom of our access panel was too small for me to reach into. Trying to fish the bird out with something seemed impossible. The Songbird Care and Conservation woman had told me to leave a piece of rope that the bird could try to climb up and place some light nearby (not blinding down directly) so that it could see what was going on. I tried this, but after about 30 minutes grew impatient. I wanted to get this bird out.
My husband didn’t like my suggestion of cutting into the side of the house, but we eventually found a way to remove a small piece of wood at the base of the panel by sawing through some nails. After it was removed, I put my arm in – luckily just able to reach the bottom where the bird was. I gently pulled her out. Below is a video of that rescue.
She sat in my hand for a little while, then flew up to a wire. She then flew to a neighbor’s rain gutter where I saw some splashing – presumably she drank some water – and sat in the sun for awhile before flying away.
I hope she chooses a better place to roost from now on! And please, remember to close up any obvious openings that a cavity nester may look for this time of year!