Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Collateral damage in a defensive action against birds

The kids and I were picking strawberries to give to our neighbor for her birthday, when we found this guy, caught in the netting I had put up to keep out the robins. He had been still as the dead until I took one step closer than he liked, and he zipped away as far as the net would stretch.

Chipmunk with wound and attached netting
Originally uploaded by rob helpychalk.

I was scared to handle him at first, thinking that he could carry disease and might scratch me, but it quickly became clear that he would not be able to get all four of his claws out of the net on his own. The weird thing is that once I got all his claws free, there was just a glob of netting attached to his side for no apparent reason.

clear shot of wound and attached netting
Originally uploaded by rob helpychalk.

Also, he had rubbed a big patch of fur clean off from his shoulder trying to escape.

scared chipmunk
Originally uploaded by rob helpychalk.

The only way to free him was to cut the glob of netting with scissors. Once free, he scurried into some PVC piping connected loosely to the downspout of the gutters of my house.

Some background. I've seen him in the garden before, sometimes scurrying into the PVC pipe, sometimes scrambling around the southwest corner of the garden, looking for a way out. Sometimes it looked like he did find a way out--the base of the fence consists simply of flagstones piled together, and there are plenty of chipmunk sized holes. The PVC pipe is another story. The downspout comes down at the corner of the house, which is adjacent to the northeast corner of the garden. It empties into this PVC pipe, which goes under the garden fence, one side sticking into the garden and one side sticking out. The pipe is a natural varmint highway, and up until now I have dealt with this problem with the simple expedient of putting a large rock on the sticking-out-of-the-garden side. But the rock is often moved and doesn't cover the hole right, so I am not surprised that it has still served as a direct route to my garden.

Ok, so the chipmunk is in the pipe and the kids having been briefly entertained by The Chipmunk Incident, are now asking to do something new and exciting. I am not satisfied with the situation, however. The 'munk is scared, cowering in the pipe, and may think to leave out the side that exits the garden, and might not. So, with the kids watching, I proceed to try to disinter the PVC pipe, slide it out from under the fence, and coax the chipmunk out. This is not entertaining to children, who whine and make escalating demands, including that I stop what I doing any play Uno. Finally, unable to take the pestering, I yell

Can't you see I'm trying to rescue and injured chipmunk here!!!

which in retrospect, is kinda a weird thing to yell. In any case, it scares the kids off, and I am able to remove the pipe and clean it out. It turns out the whole thing is packed full of dirt and live roots. There is no way it would carry water, an issue which never came up, because the downspout and the gutter that feeds into it are also completely clogged. About halfway through the process of emptying the pipe, the 'munk scurries out and runs into a nearby evergreen bush. I imagine I will recognize him if I see him again, because he has a glob of net sticking out from his side. I should name him, but the only name that comes to me is "Leibniz" which I am not satisfied with.

Leibniz the chipmunk
Originally uploaded by rob helpychalk.

I am also worried that his wounds will mean his early demise. I can't figure for the life of me how the net got stuck to his side. Molly has suggested hopefully that Leibniz (for want of a better name) might have a mate who will help groom out the netting. But the whole thing still worries me.

I spent the remainder of the day restoring the PVC pipe to its proper place and fashioning grates at either end to be sure to keep all varmints out. I also took care that it was tipped so that, if the gutters of the house are ever repaired and actually empty water into the PVC pipe, it will be appropriately tipped so that the water pours into the garden, and not out of it. I even measured with a level.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

oh, what a pity chipmunk!
i'm blogwalking here.. have a nice day