Trying To Catch A Bird In A Parish Rectory: A Review

Happy Thanksgiving Week, dear readers!  Of course, Thanksgiving Week isn’t a real thing, and nobody really cares about the days leading up to Thanksgiving – but here at the blog, we support Thanksgiving as one of the most underrated holidays around.  Poor Thanksgiving gets stuck in between Halloween (every elementary-school and college student’s favorite holiday) and Christmas (the best damn holiday around).  Hell, some radio station by you is definitely playing Christmas music already, and we’re over a month away.  This is utterly ridiculous, and no, your answer of “it’s never to early get into the Christmas spirit!” is not appreciated.  I am fine getting into the Christmas spirit after this holiday, thank you very much.

Anyway, Thanksgiving Week on the blog is going to contain normal reviews that I will tie in to the concept of Thanksgiving as loosely as possible.  Here’s the first, which ties in because it’s about a bird…

Not this one, though.


As many readers of the blog may know, I have a part-part-time job aside from my general life as a sports broadcaster (not counting “blogger” as a part-part-time job).  I work two days a week in my local parish rectory office, doing assorted random things such as editing the weekly parish bulletin and inputting the parishioners’ weekly envelope donations.  Today, “assorted random things” consisted of the above two tasks, along with catching a bird.  In a shocking upset, today’s blog post will be about this exercise in futility, rather than the scanning of envelopes.

The avian chase started at around 3:15, when I went to complete my final task of the day – putting away the weekly envelopes in the back of the rectory boiler room.  The boiler room is located straight down the hall from the office, all on the bottom floor of the building.  Typically, this task involves entering the boiler room, walking back to the left into a pitch-black room, yanking down a chord for the overhead light and placing the envelopes in a plastic container.  Typically, this task does not involving walking in the boiler room to hear the flapping of wings.  Today, as you now know, was no ordinary day.

The bird in the boiler room was some sort of a common bird, though I don’t feel knowledgeable enough to identify it.  My guess, from a childhood desire of wanting to be a zookeeper and a cursory Google Image search, is that our fine-feathered friend was either a starling or a dove.  Draw your own conclusions, however, if you want to imagine us chasing down a turkey instead.

Here’s an approximation of what that would have looked like.

What’s that?  I haven’t introduced the “us” yet?  Well, for the sake of anonymity in this otherwise idiotic affair, let’s identify the other two main characters with aliases: office worker “Chris” and maintenance worker “Billy”.  (Office administrative assistant Diane was also involved, but since she left the room immediately, I have no problem using her actual name.)

You’re taught way back in grade school somewhere about the “fight or flight” reflex, right?  Well, in this case, faced with a moderately-sized common bird in a boiler room, I obviously exercised the “flight” reflex, sprinting out of the boiler room to inform Chris and Diane.  The first move from this wise old bird-battling veterans was to close all the other doors on the ground floor, so the bird, if he got out, wouldn’t make his way into the laundry room, kitchen, closet or office.  The second move was to face the fearsome creature with…well, a flashlight, a broom and a milk crate.  The third move, after the bird flew over our heads a few times, was to call Billy, the only maintenance worker left on the premises at 3:15.  This decision was immediately met with skepticism when Billy entered the room with a shovel in his hand.  Come to think of it, now would be a good time to point out that…

No animals were harmed in the creation of the event preceding this blog post.

Stand back, PETA!

The rectory boiler room is, let’s say, 25 feet by 20 feet wide, with a 10-foot-or-so-high ceiling, so we weren’t exactly chasing the bird throughout some grand ballroom.  However – it’s the boiler room, so it wasn’t exactly empty.  The bird mainly hung out up at the top of the room, on heating pipes and in other nooks and crannies where we couldn’t see him.  The boiler room does have a light, but it’s a fairly dim one, so we quickly resorted to the flashlight.  I held the flashlight in my right hand, along with a milk crate for possible entrapment.  Chris went into battle with a green butterfly net that was hanging off a hook on the boiler, while Billy held the aforementioned shovel.  It wasn’t quite Game of Thrones in terms of weaponry, to say the least.

Our plan was to…well, we didn’t really have much of a plan.  Chris and Billy kept poking at where the bird was, or at least where they thought it was, since my guiding flashlight was often off course.  Mostly, the bird stayed up on the pipes, but occasionally, our pokes drew it out.  At those moments, it furiously flapped its wings and flew down for a few seconds, leading us to all scream and duck for cover while the bird flew upward to a different spot.  This continued for about 10 minutes with minimal progress, as the group came closer to throwing in the towel and leaving the bird overnight than actually catching it.

But we finally had a breakthrough.  We lured the bird over to the wall farthest from the boiler, and Chris ensnared it in his net up against the wall.  With victory literally within our grasp, Billy grabbed an old Manila folder from the next room, and Chris slid it in between the wall and the net.  The bird was trapped in between the net and the folder, and although Billy lifted up his shovel to strike, we marched outside the room with the bird caged (though not singing).  At that point, Chris made a near-fatal mistake.

“Hey, Diane”, he called.  “Wanna see the bird?”  Chris stopped before walking up the stairs to the side door to display his achievement.

“No!”, she shouted back.

Turns out it wouldn’t have mattered if she’d said yes.  That delay was all the time in the world for the bird.  He somehow escaped the folder/net cage and flew away into the rectory.  Disaster had struck.

Comparable to this level of disaster.

In shock, our valiant trio hurried up the stairs to resolve our neglect.  We sprinted past the music director on the first floor and past a priest on the second as the bird flew up to the third and highest floor of the building.  Doors slammed as we ran by, hoping to trap the bird in the staircase.  We found him on the ledge of the door frame, unable to enter the hallway.  And with catlike reflexes, Chris caught him in the net once again.

This time, our aim was true.  We hustled over to the third-floor bathroom, popped the screen and let our friend fly free, once and for all.  He left without a moment’s notice, and our daily work was done.  A few questions, however, remain unanswered:

1) How did the bird infiltrate the boiler room in the first place?

2) Will he return?

3) Was Billy actually going to smash the bird with the shovel if given the chance?

4) What the hell was I hoping to accomplish with the milk crate?

Anyway, the three of us were generally incompetent in this excursion, but at least we got the bird out.  That’ll bump the score up to a…

Grade: D-


6 responses to “Trying To Catch A Bird In A Parish Rectory: A Review

  1. I’m the “Diane” in question. Just a note…the reason I left is because “Billy” came in with the shovel, and I couldn’t vision the bird being done in by the shovel!

  2. This brings back memories of my childhood while vacationing at my parents ( your grandparents) summer home when after going to bed a bat appeared and flew about our room. In this case your uncle Steven, Grandfather and I used tennis rackets and brooms to capture the bat. We were aided at times by a numer of active cats who were jumping off the beds in an attempt to snare the bat out of the air. Unlike in your case the bat did not live to eat another insect!

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