Yesterday a swallow flew into my house, and became trapped. It happens several times every summer if I leave the back door open for a short period of time. Swallows speed so quickly across the skies I have no idea how they process the information of where they are going fast enough.

They fly into the space, assuming there will be a way out, and become panicked when the obvious route – the glass window – will not allow them egress.

This one flew up and down the glass, its wings beating against the barrier uselessly. My dog Minnie, excited, ran about the room, watching its struggles.


After frantic attempts to fly through the glass it would drop to the windowsill, its chest hammering, exhausted. All it could see was the window and a potential escape route that was mysteriously blocked. The door remained open, but it didn’t notice that way out.

I’ve seen this happen many times. The bird will fly from window to window, but will not fly out the door.

It reminded me how sometimes we feel trapped in life: be it by our responsibilities, our job, ill-health, grief, or the overwhelming nature of the world’s problems. There seems to be no path to freedom. We exhaust ourselves going over how we got here and what has not worked in the past.

Beehind glass

It is very hard to find solutions when we endless berate ourselves for our situation. It’s almost painful to let go of pre-conceived ideas of how we can get out of the tight spot. When all the ways out result in nothing, we can become disheartened, despairing, and bitter.

In this case, I approached the swallow carefully, and kindly, and threw a thin towel over it. Then I gently picked it up while it twittered and fought against my soft grip. I brought it the doorway, with Minnie by my side.

I stood on the threshold, showed it the landscape, and let it go. It darted away instantly, zooming into the sky. Minnie ran after it for a short burst, her head and tail up, and woofed a couple of times at the soaring swallow. Whether it was a warning not to come back or a gruff farewell, I don’t know.


Sometimes it is very difficult to notice the door ajar.


  • liz@lifedreaming

    My Coco dog brought in a robin once, both looking a tad startled.

    I asked Coco to drop it and she happily let the sodden bird fall to the floor.

    I did exactly what you did and wrapped it in a tea towel thinking I was about to watch its demise and wondering how the hell you do mouth to beak resuscitation.

    It shook its dog sodden wings and flew out the window.

    I think all 3 of us breathed a sigh of relief.

    • Maura

      My dog caught a bird in her mouth too once – the hunting drive is strong in her, but luckily the killing drive isn’t. She didn’t really know what to do next and when I ordered her to ‘drop’ – a command she knows well – she obliged, and the bird flew away.

  • Lynda

    And I have also learned that sometimes, you truly need a good friend to just throw a towel over your head and carry you out the door you can’t see!

    Nice post, Maura.

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