* I said to my older daughter last night, “You know, this Kudzu 12 Days of Christmas thing is challenging. I mean, what’s with all the birds? First, the partridge. Then, the turtle doves and the French hens, and now the calling birds! I’m looking forward to lords-a-leaping and ladies dancing! How many things about birds can I write?” She replied, “Did you talk about the birds flying into the chimney? That’s important. People need to know about that.” And she’s right. Just about everyone with a fireplace has, at some point, been sitting in their home office quietly working when they have heard the flapping of wings in this elevator shaft-like space, or even the chirping of baby birds. Turns out this is quite common, and it’s actually what a certain type of bird–aptly named the chimney swift (also known as the “flying cigar”)–likes to do. Chimney swifts are found in the eastern United States. They pose neither a health threat or fire threat. Creosote, which forms from burning wood, poses your biggest fire threat and needs annual or semi-annual cleaning (and I finally got my chimney cleaned yesterday! Guess what the chimney sweep found on the top of the chimney? Some wood rot. Growl. Here we go again. (See Turn Home Maintenance and Repair from a Horror to a Habit, Thanks to Kudzu.)
* If you have “calling birds” in your chimney, realize that those “peeps” you hear will last only about two weeks, and then the baby birds will be gone. It’s actually a federal offense to destroy the nests or eggs, so don’t go there. Be comforted to know that chimney swifts eat gobs of bugs around your home, so perhaps just enjoy this “free labor” and close your fireplace damper. To deter them in the future from nesting in your chimney, install a chimney cap, and get your fireplace cleaned regularly (not during nesting season). That should do it. Some folks actually attach “swift towers” to the side of their homes to provide a nesting area for chimney swifts because they like hosting these birds in this way. Find out more than you ever imagined about chimney swifts here (which I where I found the photo). (Such a learning experience for me this 12 Days of Christmas series is!) And see Ready for Cozy: Fireplace, Boots, Soup, and Heat to for a little encouragement to get your fireplace cleaned.
* There are some birds you’d be perfectly happy to have calling your house home–such as the birds on this sweet wallpaper, for instance. I love the yellow “wellies” next to the bright blue wallpaper, and could see this wallpaper used in a cheery mud room. See a very nicely organized mud room here. (I found this photo here, where you can see several other “bird” wallpapers.)
* Peter. Butch. Woodstock. Vladimir. These were the names of the parakeets I had as a child (well, Vladimir actually came with me to college and lived in a cage on top of the refrigerator in that lopsided apartment at 21 Center Street in Geneseo, New York). My birds were trained to land on my finger, and I kept their cages open most of the time so they could fly around at will (yes, yes, this led to a bit of a mess). I’d often wake up to the scratch, scratch, scratch of a bird on my pillow. My mother coped with all of this by simply closing my bedroom door. She also sewed a “cage cover,” complete with piped corners, to block out light so the birds would go to bed at night and sleep past dawn.) Smart mom. I’ve been to people’s homes who put their bird cage right smack in the middle of the house, and I always light up when I see this. Never underestimate the “joy value” of a pretty cage and a singing bird! Here are five tips on buying a bird cage. Like bird cages but don’t want the birds? Well, how pretty is this?
* And, finally, of course, any talk of birds in 2011 would not be complete without mention of Angry Birds. I hear the Angry Birds “Knock on Wood” board game is actually a top toy seller this holiday season. You can spread out on the floor (wood, of course) with your family, playing the game and listening to the sweet chirps of your family bird, or simply enjoy your bird-themed wallpaper and await the chimney swifts in spring. See Welcome to Mohs! for information about the Janka hardness test for wood flooring species, and find out about reclaimed and recovered wood here.
Kudzu can help you enjoy your “calling birds” with easy access to trusted service pros who can provide wallpaper installation, a remodeled kitchen or new wood floor just right for the addition of a bird cage, or a chimney cap and cleaning that keeps those chimney sweeps from coming back.