Watermelon Roses

A collection of random thoughts, commentaries, and journaling. There is a lot to explore here, including links to other sites of mine. These are mostly for my own benefit, but guests are welcome to browse and explore as much or as little as they like.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Bye Bye Birdie

Bye Bye Birdie,
I'm gonna miss you so;
Bye Bye Birdie,
Why'd ya have to go?
- "Bye Bye Birdie"

The baby bird is gone. After many phone calls, I finally found an animal hospital that would take him and transport him to a rehabilitator, but not before I got attached to him. I say "him," but really, I have no idea how to tell.

He was chirping in his basket when I went to check on him this morning (after locking up the cat, of course,) and had left two little presents for me on the towel. Being a good birdie, he moved to the other side of the basket so as not to soil his feet or downy feathers. I disposed of the droppings and took the basket into the kitchen with me to see if I could persuade him to eat the cat food I had soaked. (It seems odd to be feeding cat food to cat food, doesn't it?) Using blunt chopsticks, I picked up a piece of moistened food and held it over the bird, who just looked suspiciously at me. I gently tapped his beak like the girl on the phone had suggested, but still no response. As K and I were gazing into the basket, wondering what to do next, he opened his beak wide with a little chirp. I dropped the food in, which vanished immediately, and he opened wide again with another chirp. I was a little clumsy in my attempt to keep up with him and took too long to get to him, and he clammed up again. I discovered that by shifting the towel under his feet, I could get him to open up, though I'm not sure why this worked. He had a few more morsels before I shifted that towel right out from under him. Now what?

The bird thought maybe now would be a good time to explore the kitchen, and hopped right out of the basket. I scooped him up and he perched on my finger, clinging tightly to me and making me feel like a Disney princess with a birdie on my finger. Mina would have been so delighted. I found an old, abandoned t-shirt of Justin's (my teenager) and used it to line a box big enough to contain a hopping explorer. He wasn't very interested in eating more, so I covered the box and went to get Layth, who was waiting patiently in his crib for me to come get him and take him to see the bird.

We sat at the table admiring the bird, and he suddenly opened wide with another chirp. Layth got to watch as I fed him another two pieces of cat food. By the time I got the phone call telling me where to take the bird, I didn't want to let him go. Seeing him look up at me with that wide open mouth, listening to those sweet cheeps (that would turn into raucous squawks in a few weeks,) and feeling him clutching at my finger ... I was so charmed. However, I knew that I wasn't qualified to raise a baby bird, and I certainly didn't trust my cat to cooperate, so off we went.

I feel a little down, now. I hope he really does go to a rehabilitator who takes good care of him and that they don't just say that to put me at ease while they euthanize him. I meant to take a picture of him to post here, and I forgot. I miss him already! I've never liked grackles much, and always thought they were loud and ugly, but I'll never look at them the same way again.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Primum Non Nocere

First, do no harm.

I sure hope I do no harm. Layth and I were leaving McDonald's tonight after an ice cream/playplace excursion when I noticed a baby bird sitting two spaces over from where I was parked. I watched it for a bit, remembering all I was taught about never touching baby birds or their parents wouldn't come back for it, but in the end, I just couldn't leave it in that parking space to get run over by someone who didn't notice it.

With Layth watching curiously from the car, I tentatively approached the little bird and touched it lightly. It didn't seem bothered. I called K to let him know I was bringing the bird home, planning to look online for a number to call for help. K locked up the cat. I had a shallow box of bottled water in the trunk, so I took out the bottles and took the box to the bird. I was a little concerned about being pecked because this is a grackle, and has a pointed beak. I sound quite knowledgeable about birds here, but really that's just because I've spent the past two hours reading everything I could find. It squawked and fluttered a little, but didn't peck.

On the ride home, the little bird hopped out of the box, onto my diet Dr Pepper, and then into the crook of my arm, where it stayed for the rest of the journey. Aww. I did everything one-handed from that point so as not to disturb the bird. Once home, I held the hem of my shirt, making a pocket for the bird, who didn't protest at all. I found a basket, put a towel in, eased the now-sleeping grackle into it, and hit the internet while K tucked Layth into bed. I found a bird rehabilitator in a neighboring city and called, even though it was now after 10pm. She was asleep, but her daughter was very helpful. She told me it would sleep through the night, so I should put it in a quiet place and soak some cat food in water overnight to feed it in the morning. Her mother should call me tomorrow.

I went back to reading, and now know that this bird will imprint on me very easily. This brings to mind a book I had in my childhood that I haven't thought of in many years ... "Are You My Mother?" by PD Eastman. I also know that this fledgling grackle was probably not abandoned, but may have been waiting for its dad to come back with food, and that I should take him back home. But he'll get run over if I take him back! But he'll stick to me for life if I don't!

K finally convinced me to let him sleep here tonight, and see what the rehabilitator says tomorrow. I still can't sleep. He's on a towel ... I wasn't supposed to put him on a towel. He might need his bedding changed ... I'm scared to handle him again for fear of letting him imprint on me. He'll need food in the morning, and though I know how to feed him, I'm scared of the imprinting thing. Are his parents sad and missing him? Is he sad and missing his parents? Has he already replaced them with me in his little bird brain? I'm afraid I'm doing all the wrong things, and I'm going to have the death of this little bird on my conscience. For tonight, he's safe and sound in Mina's and Layla's room, away from curious cats and rough-and-tumble toddlers. I know Mina would approve.