Tonight I come home late from work, the girls (Mackie and Zoey) are impatiently waiting for one of us to come in the door to dish out the chow. So quickly, I bowed to the Royalty and feed the girls, did a couple of quick chores, and clicked on the television.
Chimney Swifts. Know them? Cool birds that will literally dive bomb into an un-hooded chimney at dusk. It really is a sight to watch. They will aggressively buzz you before circling overhead and then do this full speed nose-dive into the chimney for the evening. Their “clucking” sound chirp is unique. They clutch and build nests on the vertical face of the walls.
Mackie does not like squirrels. A mere mention of the name can get her a bit
stirred up. The Queen will actually get up on the fireplace hearth and bark up
the chimney when “where’s Mr. Squirrel” is said out loud. The Mac has one squirrel kill to her name that I know of (and that’s another story Deb really likes to tell – ask her someday) and it must have had something to do with our chimney.
Swifts have been our guests nearly every summer we’ve lived in our house. We looked into custom fitting a hood for the chimney one year, but never did get it bought. I kind of like the Swifts having freedom to come and go, flying about, except when their young hatch in the chimney nest and they incessantly do a hunger chirp until their old enough to take flight.
Zoey has been with us now for about 8 glorious months (thanks Leah! thanks OFSIL SueB!). Although she has yet to formally meet a squirrel like Mac has, she is painfully acquainted with a few yellow jacket hornets and what they do when pestered. But hornets, and squirrels too I guess, have very little to do with Swifts except they all live on our property…and with our Scotties.
Swifts have adorned the walls of our house before…I talking the inside walls of our house.
The Zoe-Bird is our athlete. She leaps, she springs, she prances…she is a delight to watch and play with, except for Mackie who is always acting like she could really care less about her….
We’ve counted as many as 8, sometimes 10 Swifts coming to our chimney home on any given summer’s evening. I don’t know how many eggs they lay – I’m guessing 1 or 2 – so out of those “renters” come maybe a couple nests inside the chimney, all making for a noticeable amount of bird poop on the chimney flue each fall.
Zoey always finishes her meal after Mackie. When finished tonight, Zoe followed me out the patio back door eager to do sprints across the back yard with my “get you” encouragement. I left the patio door open so Mac could watch while straddling the threshold (like she likes to do) and belch her just-finished meal a few times (like she likes to do).
Not all Swifts make it into the chimney before dusk. When that happens, they look for the next best thing, usually under the eave of a house and then their habits are similar to those of a bat. Well, unbeknownst to Mac and me, a late-straggler Swift roosted just outside the patio door and came into the house through the open door. When we all came back into the house from exercises, Zoey quickly perked up, started whimpering (this dog rarely barks), nose in the air, and went all crazy-dog acting on Mac and me.
“Zoey, what’s wrong?”
Then…the Swift buzzed me and Mac. Mac did nothing except stand in the middle of the room and look at me, Zoey, and the bird with this “now what cha gonna do?” expression. I went and got the broom.
Did I mention I am the self-proclaimed Chimney Swift extraction-from-the-house expert? Stand back everyone. I’m a professional and yes, I’ve done this before, but always with Mac and never with the crazy-acting dog, Zoey.
Porch light on…check. Patio door open…check. All lights off in the house…check (the Swift will fly to the light – the porch light in this case). Long handled broom to encourage bird flight or use as a defensive weapon if need be…check. Game plan in action…check. Mack…you ready? Mack? Oh well, let’s roll ladies!
A broom tap at the bird clinging to the living room ceiling beam gets things started. It flies left and clings to the wall – Zoey tries to jump on the TV stand (36″ off the floor). Tap, tap, tap…the bird flies right and clings – Zoey now is on the couch ready to leap 5′ through the air to the bar stool for a closer attack formation vantage point. A third tap of the broom brings the bird into a nose-drive at me and then a steep vertical climb – Zoey lunges off the couch for bird, but misses. I’m now laughing out loud – Mackie is being a rock, not budging one bit and only moving her head in amazement of the circus going on in front of her.
Obviously, the Swift was being a bit stubborn in its departure this particular night, maybe because of a certain 20-pound black crazy animal at ground zero. So the fourth broom tap causes a now-tiring Swift to do a slow-motion, low flight dip across the living room (away from the porch light I might add – so much for that extraction theory). Zoey leaps off the floor and snatches the bird, in her mouth, about 2′ off the ground. Holy Jeepers!
A perfect snag! She was excited! Mac moves nary one bit!
Zoey brought the bird to my feet, dropped it, and then looked up at me. Now I’m here to tell you…she had this proud look on her face that only a Scottie dog owner knows (Mac’s look was one of annoyment – that too is one only a Scottie dog owner knows). Zoey picked up the bird before I could grab it and sprinted to the back yard with the Swift in her mouth. Please understand, do you remember the “get you” exercises mentioned earlier? Yeah, well it seems when I proclaimed “you got it” when she dropped the bird at my feet, well apparently that was close enough to “get you”. And so it was game-on play-time out-the-door as far as Zoey was concerned, and by gosh she had a new toy!
Ok, I eventually got the bird away from Zoey. Mackie actually moved, and for that matter she moved beyond the threshold to watch the “give me that” commotion in the backyard between Zoey, the Swift, and me. I laughed at my dogs the rest of the night.
I love my Scottie dogs.
Have I told you about Zoey and our back yard geckos? How ’bout Mackie and Mr. Kitty? Hmmmm.
I’m working late again tomorrow….