Outdoors blog: You found WHAT in your chimney?
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Chimney-navigating bird hard to ID
I get a fair number of e-mails with subject lines such as "Unidentified rodent" or "What is this?" Usually, they come with questions about critters, and I often turn to local wildlife officials to make sure I'm answering folks correctly.
This week, I got another good one: "Cormorant in the chimney"
The e-mail was from Barb Wyman of Cloquet, and it read:
"A week or so ago, my husband said he heard something in the stovepipe next to our wood stove. When I got home from work, I cleaned out the chimney but didn't find anything, so I then took the stovepipe off the stove. There were tailfeathers sticking out of the back of the stove. I pulled on them and a few came off, but no bird. I pulled harder... The biggest possible bird came out! It pretty much filled the 8" stovepipe. By using the bird book, we identified it as an immature cormorant -- probably about three pounds. It was a greyish color and had a white neck and breast."
Barb subsequently sent me a low-resolution photo of the alleged cormorant.
The alleged cormorant. (Barb Wyman photo)
I told Barb I thought the bird looked more like a common merganser, and upon rechecking her bird book, she agreed.
But that didn't solve her original e-mail question:
"How and why would it get in there? We live in a split-entry house so the chimney is about 25 feet tall. The stovepipe comes off the chimney about 6 feet or so above the lower level floor and has two 90 degree bends to make it to the stove. The (alleged) cormorant was wedged as far into the stove as it could get, next to the baffle inside the outer housing."
I was no help in answering that question. Mergansers are cavity nesters and often will use nesting boxes intended for wood ducks. But how and why it went down her chimney are baffling to me.
Some things that animals do are just difficult to explain.