No, I have no idea how he (or she – I didn’t check) got into the house. Those windows that open all have screens, and I don’t leave doors open – the worst of mosquito season is over, but we still have white-socks, no-see-ums and yellow-jackets. But Sunday, shortly after noon, I walked into my office to find a bird perched on the windowsill. Inside.

Mystery bird

My avian visitor. I took the picture while trying to figure out how to get him outdoors. That’s his tail against the window, and I think the outer feathers are white. My brother-in law says he’s a junco.

The bird obviously wanted to leave, and was fluttering against the window when he wasn’t perching on my laser printer. I wanted to get rid of him – not permanently, I like birds, but he didn’t belong in my office. Or anywhere else in the house, for that matter. But how was I to help him get out?

Those windows that open are screened, and the screens don’t come off easily. I didn’t think I’d have much luck chasing him to an open door, since every time he was disturbed he tried to go through the window glass. I’ve seen nature shows where people carefully hold birds while banding them. So I knew it could be done, but how to catch the bird without injuring it?

I considered trying with my bare hands for about ten seconds. I’m just not that well coordinated, and the bird panicked every time I came near. I considered a towel, but this wasn’t a big bird, and I was afraid the weight of the towel would injure him. I needed a lighter weight fabric to throw over him, and I finally remembered that I had a piece of weed-stop fabric, too small to use, that I’ve been using as a background when I need to photograph books.

It worked beautifully. The bird was trapped between the fabric and the window pane, and I had little problem grasping the bird – very gently – through the fabric. I carried him out the front door and carefully peeled back the fabric from what I thought was his head. As soon as he saw light he took off, flying for the bushes.

I think he was a slate-colored junco. He was a lovely soft gray-brown, shading into white, and the outer tail feathers were white. I know a few of our winter birds (there aren’t all that many) but I suspect this was a summer visitor. Wikipedia says slate-colored juncos breed in evergreen or mixed forest, so that goes with his being a summer visitor. At any rate, one like him flew out of the squash bed Monday. I hope he was eating weed seeds or insects!

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