Of Birds and Men

(or “Mr. Cardinal’s Sticky Situation”)

It all began when my wife came up to my office late one morning and told me, “There are some strange thumping noises in the garage – you’d better go check it out.”

Being the brave man of the house, I immediately went downstairs, grabbed a convenient weapon (an old broom) and went out the side door into the garage.  My wife had just been working outside with the garage door up, so we expected that some creature had unknowingly been trapped inside when she put the door down.  I pressed the button to put up the overhead garage door and moved forward, weapon in hand, ready to defend our turf from any hostile visitors.

What I found was entirely unexpected.

Over in the front corner near the garage door siderail lay a “sticky trap” – more exactly, a “Household Pest Glue Trap” that we had placed there to catch any bugs that tried to sneak in around the garage door.

CAUTION: Viewer discretion advised! My wife says this is a disgusting picture of the glue trap and I shouldn’t put it on the blog … what do you think? Leave a comment below …

Tomcat Household Pest Glue Trap

The "Household Pest Glue Trap" - lunch time!

The glue trap was laying flat on the floor – but it had a small red creature flapping about on it!  Upon closer examination, we were shocked to find …

… a male cardinal in a “sticky situation”!

Northern Cardinal - from All About Birds

Northern Cardinal - picture linked from All About Birds by Cornell Labs

Mr. Cardinal had apparently hopped by the open garage door, spied the glue trap on the floor with a tasty smorgasbord of bugs attached to it, and decided that lunch was served!  But of course when he tried to sample some of the dainty delicacies spread out before him, it became more of a “stick to your ribs” meal than he had anticipated!

What to do?  The poor redbird was flapping and flailing about, trying to disengage himself from his sticky situation but only making things worse.  One foot, his entire right wing, and the side of his head were all plastered against the glue trap.  And to top it all off, he was in a foul mood, making any rescue attempt even more of an “adventure” than I would have liked.

I first went over to the workbench and put on my pair of leather work gloves.  My previous experience in handling our cockatiel, Francis, and his very similar (and powerful!) beak had made me aware that trying to rescue the very scared and frustrated Mr. Cardinal would require some protection for my fingers.

The Great Escape

Now where to start?  I pulled the bug trap out into the open where, red feathers flapping and flying about, I could better survey the situation.  I first tried pulling his stuck right leg off the trap, but as soon as I started working on another area, the flailing leg got stuck again.  My wife was looking on, trying to be encouraging but also wondering if this was a hopeless cause; “Maybe we should just put him out of his misery …”

I wasn’t ready to give up yet, but we definitely weren’t getting anywhere in rescuing our wayward avian friend. Hmmm … perhaps if we cut the problem down to size a bit?

I had my wife get me an old pair of scissors so we could trim off the parts of the glue trap that weren’t stuck to the frustrated bird, thus reducing the chances of getting “re-stuck.”  I then extricated his right leg again so she could trim off that end of the glue trap.  OK, now we’re making some progress …

But how to free the head and wing?  The entire right wing was plastered against the sticky glue of the trap, and I knew that I needed to pull the cardboard trap down and away or risk breaking his wing.  That meant starting at the head and pulling down – but most of the top of his head, including his crest, was in the grip of the thick glue on the trap.  Oh well, there’s only one way to find out …

As I began pulling the glue trap away from his head, he let out a squawk and tried to bite me – good thing I had the leather gloves on!  Now there was a big clump of red feathers stuck to the glue trap, and Mr. Cardinal looked like “Old Baldy” – except that the top of his head was now a smooth mantel of black instead of being crowned with tufts of red feathers!  Oh, the indignity!

OK, just the wing to free now … I began pulling the glue trap down from the shoulder toward the tip of the wing.  Another loud squawk and a struggle … I pulled a little more and another clump of feathers appeared on the glue trap … just a little more … another tug, then there was a sudden flap from Mr. Cardinal and he was once again a free bird!

He hastily proceeded to zoom out the garage door and around the side of the house to the safety of the wax myrtle bushes.  No doubt he was ready to cuss me out for all the indignities that he’d just suffered, but probably thought better of venturing anywhere near the garage again – after all, that would have been really “tacky” of him to reproach the human who had just freed him from his sticky situation!

So there I was, left holding a big chunk of a glue trap with clumps of red feathers stuck to it, feeling sorry that the poor bird had to go through all that trauma, but glad to have been able to free him.

My only regret was that amidst all of the excitement I forgot about grabbing the camera to record the “Great Cardinal Caper” to share with others!  I have seen Mr. Cardinal around the neighborhood, and I was able to snap a quick picture of him recently in a tree behind the house; he still has that smooth, black bald head, but he was accompanied a lady friend, so life must not be too bad for “Old Baldy”!

Baldy the Cardinal

Baldy the Cardinal - still hanging out in the 'hood

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2 Responses

  1. Sara 

    The glue trap carnage is a little gross, but old Baldy is hilarious!!

  2. jersey joe 

    I also liked the cardinal rule, keep your hands to yourself story.