Human Hazards for Little Critters

Grand Canyon

Five years ago I drove to California with my son Matthew for his co-op assignment at K-Swiss Shoes in LA. We stopped by the Grand Canyon on the way. When we arrived there we immediately went to one of the main overlooks, I think it was probably Mather Point, where I took this photo. There were a lot of people there.

In the morning with the small amount of time we had,  I wanted to take a sunrise drive along the east rim to Desert View, away from the crowds. It was a beautiful morning and a glorious drive as Matthew and I coasted along the rim’s edge, our car windows open, and  with hardly another car in sight. Solitude at last I thought. I was commenting to Matthew what a wonderful idea it was to drive this morning and how much I was enjoying being alone and out in nature, when a little squirrel darted out into the road.


Matthew, as young adults are sometimes wont to do, started laughing at the irony. I felt like throwing up. There was nothing I could do. I killed a little squirrel.

It was quite pleasant and solitary at Desert View. Matthew climbed over a rail fence and made his way down on onto his own little private overlook. I stayed at the top and watched from above. I tried to forget about the squirrel.

Fast forward five years. Sunday night at about 10:00 I heard a clatter, a clang, and then a loud squawking noise coming from our chimney. I was certain somehow a bird had fallen into it. Mark went outside to see if he could discover anything.

I was formulating a rescue plan in my mind. “Maybe we should get a sheet,” I said. I can hold it over the fireplace opening while you open the flue.

“I think the flue is already open,” Mark said.

And then I remembered that the flue was grated anyway. I didn’t think there was any way a little bird would be able to get through and into our house. Short of attempting to dismantle the grate from the chimney, there wasn’t anything I could do.

The bird stopped squawking. All noise ceased.

I went to bed.

I hope we don’t find a little bird skeleton in our chimney someday.

It’s kind of like when the turtle got squashed by the mail truck, or the dove dive-bombed into our window. Our house with all it’s human hazards for little critters occupies this space. There’s only so much I can do.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? What do you do?


27 thoughts on “Human Hazards for Little Critters”

  1. Ugh, I hate those moments, too. Once when we were first married we saw a dog get hit by a car. It was terrible. Honestly, I’ve got one of the softest hearts around, and it’s very very hard for me to watch any person or animal suffering… and I cannot count the number of critters we’ve rescued from spiders in the kitchen to stray dogs. (p.s. I’m hoping the bird was simply sitting on top of the grate then flew away…)

    1. I’m thinking that about the bird too. I think it probably just ran into the metal at the top of the chimney and the sound carried down through the narrow opening making it sound like it was actually in the chimney. Plus, when Mark went outside the noise the bird was making stopped. I suspect the bird hit the chimney cap, got indignant, and then flew away when Mark came out.

      That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  2. While not exactly the same…as a youngster I had 2 kittens from our cat Toby. They got into some oil tracks left by a car. My older brother bathed them in a bucket of water with some kind of cleanser, like pine-o or something. The chemicals destroyed the kittens’ entire system. They went limp; they were blind. The sight of them broke my heart. I cried for days. Tears still well up in my eyes at the thought.

  3. I hate seeing turtles get squashed! I will stop along the highway to move those slow-moving creatures. And don’t get me started on dogs…

    As for birds and deer, they tend to do more damage to the car then anything. I wish it didn’t happen but it just does.

    I saw your black squirrel on Twitter; so cool! I saw two running around the garden yesterday. Up to no good, I suppose.

  4. I think that things like that happen to everyone, though I often feel like they only happen to me. A bird flew into my wind shield once, died instantly. Another time I thought I hit a rabbit and drove around and around looking for his poor little corpse in case there was something I could do, though I’m not sure what that would have been. I never found anything, so I assume he was just faster then I thought and managed to escape my vicious tires. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it – at least I’m not alone.

    1. I momentarily thought about stopping for the squirrel, but then realized I wouldn’t know what to do if it was only injured and struggling. Sometimes you just have to put things out of your mind and have the serenity to accept the things we can’t change.

  5. Hi Christine .. stunning views and photos – what memories. I too hate hitting things .. just occasionally the dreaded deed happens unintentionally .. it’s not easy .. love the pictures .. and I hope all is well .. Hilary

  6. We have the problem with birds flying into our windows – definitely not because they are so clean, like on the commercials. Sometimes the birds are stunned and get back up, sometimes not… Always makes me sad.

  7. Gorgeous picture, Christine.

    I’ve had that once, being in the car and hitting a deer. Not easy when it happens. I’ve also had birds hit windows, of course, but they’re usually stunned and fly away again in a few minutes.

    1. Oh. That’s bad about the deer. I had a deer leap off the grass into the street a bit ahead of me. It was far enough away that I didn’t hit it, but I would not have been able to avoid it otherwise. They come out of nowhere.

  8. Yes unfortunately for a pigeon.. who flew while I was driving into the front grill of my car.. nothing I could do… and all I saw was a plume of feathers flying behind me.. I said a silent prayer … and another that it hadnt been my windshield.. But its very upsetting when these things happen..

    1. It is upsetting. If we were back in the days of the natives without cars, it wouldn’t happen. But then we would probably be shooting them with arrows for food. In fact, we might view the local little critters in an entirely different manner.

  9. Oh gosh. Those kind of moments are upsetting for me too. Even if I had nothing to do with the poor creature’s death. 😦

    Your Grand Canyon photos are wonderful. The first one is stunning. I’ve never been there.


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