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Possumhaw: A sticky situation


Shannon Bardwell



A terrible, terrible, thing happened. Sam pulled the boat out of the garage to go fishing. We keep the fishing boat in the garage and the vehicles in the yard. It was a beautiful day so the garage doors were left opened. 


Later I walked through the gaping opening and into the garage. Something was thrashing. I froze and surveyed the landscape within. Something was bouncing up and down on a shelf behind the radio, right next to the treadmill. 


I crept up carefully and peered behind the radio, and there were two young sparrows with their feet stuck to a "sticky trap." 


Oh no, I was heartsick. They were flapping their little wings with all their might, but their pronged feet were stuck fast in the glue. 


The sticky traps are to catch mice that eat things they shouldn't like paper towels, Christmas ornaments, cat food and stuffed animals packed away in boxes. I know it seems cruel, but though we catch and release many things mice are not one of them. 


Birds on a sticky trap are certainly a quandary. I picked the trap up with the wing-flapping birds only to find a loop of rope stuck to the trap as well. I carried the trap, the rope and the flapping birds outside to Sam's fish cleaning table.  


The birds were now staring wide-eyed, but at least they had stopped their wing flapping for a moment. With Herculean strength I yanked the rope off the trap. 


Grabbing a box cutter from Sam's tool box I carefully carved around a tiny bird foot to separate the glue-covered foot from the trap. It did not work well. 


I ran to the Gator glove box that I knew held scissors, fish bait, hooks and sundry things. Here's a tip: Scissors don't cut glue easily, but I was trying my best. 


I managed to separate one of the four bird feet from the trap. While trying to keep that foot from going back into the glue I freed the other foot.  


To get the bird's second foot off the trap I had to hold his spindly little bird leg. I was so scared I'd break it. I was so scared I'd cut too close and snip a toe off. I cut as carefully as I could close to the toe while leaving as little glue as possible. The bird broke free and flew a few feet away.  


The second bird was still with feet on the trap and leaning so far back that his body was supine on the fish cleaning table. He was quiet. He knew I was trying to help him -- and help he needed. 


In the same manner, I freed the second bird. He flew a short distance across the table and I scooped him and placed him near the first bird. Together they flew away into the forest. 


You know, it's true. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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