Tuesday, July 11, 2006

a day in the life of

There are many bird feeders, and bird baths in my yard. I love the birds that come all year to eat and chat and nest.
One of my favourite things to watch is the robins in the bird bath dancing their "happy dance". I've always loved robins, their return signals the arrival of spring, the growing light, the emergence of life. I love the way one or two will slyly follow me when I water, eyeing the spot where hose water meets earth, slipping into it (when I'm 'not' looking), playing in the splashing and then hunting for lunch and with sucess the quick stick legged rush away. This I find especially joyful. There are many reasons I won't spray my lawn, but the robins are a big one.

I happen to be the neighbourhood repository for all injured wild life (and the collector and burier of all found dead wildlife) - you know every neighbourhood has to have one of "those" moms -so, not only is my back yard full of life from chipmunks to cardinals, squirrels to goldfinchs (all expecting to be fed!), I also know where all the bodies are.

Yesterday my son come running home with 'that' look on his face and said I needed to "come right away". So much for the potluck curry I was making. He lead me to the bottom of tree where a baby robin was curled up. Alive, but injured and alone. My son and his friend had already named him (her? it was too early to tell) 'Chirpy'. Chirpy sat there mouth open, one good eye open looking at me. No robins came by to 'scare me off". We reguarded each other awhile, while my son ran off and dug for worms, and . . . I caved - I always cave. There are outdoor cats in the neighourhood, No one was getting upset about me leaning over him. How could I leave him there? I decided. I scooped up Chirpy to take to my favourite pet store, that had taken care of an orphaned robin before. Now if you want fun and adventure try holding a baby robin while driving (we tried having my son hold Chirpy, but he -Chirpy- had an impressive tantrum). Add to this listening to my 11yr old son talk non-stop, and giving 'very-helpful' advice and recounting the story over and over (and over) again.

At the store the "guy who takes care of orphaned birds" was away, so 15minutes later I found myself leaving the store with a borrowed cage, baby bird food (you do NOT want to know), eye droppers and instructions to feed every 2 hours. Really it wasn't much different than trying to get baby food into a 4month old baby.

In the morning, despite my best efforts, Chirpy was curled up at the bottom of the cage, dead.


I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

D H Lawrence (1885-1930)

Of course, this doesn't help me from feeling sorry for the little bird whose tiny body was added to the many under walking stones and plants in my garden.

I don't always have the best success rate.

I took a chipmunk,
from my

cat today

and held it’s
tiny soul -
within my hands;
until his
panicked gasping

stopped, watched til
quiet breathing settled into

calm - and
sleep began

we sat upon -

my porch listening
to birdsongs,
till breathing ceased -

then I sat alone.
watching finches,
doves a

after I had buried
his tiny soul;
and come inside
my daughter asked me
how he was -
and, I pointed to the
chipmunk in the feeder.

because, some days

I am a liar.


Peacechick Mary said...

I'm sorry I didn't get back sooner. I love this post, particularly the poem about the chipmonk. Sweet.

Callooh said...

thanks! it's a true story - the chipmunk - and my cat, unfortunately (he can open our sliding glass door if we forget to lock it)

as I write this there is another chipmunk in my bird feeder stuffing his face (likely has finished the peanuts I put out for him earlier)- looks much like the one in the picture... little pig!

pissed off patricia said...

Did you try to find the nest the little bird fell from? It's a myth that if you put the baby back in the nest the mother will have nothing to do with it. Birds don't smell so they have no idea a human has touched their little bird. I say this having worked as the assoc director of a wildlife hospital for years.

I have tons of stories about transporting everything in my car from bobcats to baby opossums.

My back yard is full of not only my own pets, but like yours, all the unfortunate creatures who for whatever reason met their end. There are words for people like you and I, suckers. I don't mind one bit either. :)

Callooh said...

yes I checked for a nest, and yes I know it is a myth about returning babies to their nest (because I have done just that) it's myth I try to debunk to people as much as possible. I wouldn't have taken 'him' if there were any signs of another robins, or a nest. I suspect a cat got him and got distracted away, hence the injuries and the location.

My wildlife rehab centre and I are on close terms, orphaned rabbits and the such. My son now will gently wrap anything he finds, and bury it and tell me afterwards (so really I don't know where all the bodies are).

Yes, I am a sucker, a bleeding heart, you name it, I bear it proudly.

The Future Was Yesterday said...

Add one more unapolegetic sucker to this list. My "picture"/avator/whatever was brought in from the parking lot from a freezing november rain. He owes me Dinner. We were going out, and he was crouched under my car, unable to move. We took him in, gave him warm milk, a dab of tuna, and he fell asleep on my lap. He got well....and well....and well....and....he's my 20lb+ monster now!

Callooh said...

you know you'll never get that dinner - not from a cat...

I took in one skin and bones cat that had been dumped on a friends farm, fattened her up nicely and took her to the vet to get her spayed - to which he replied - I can't spay her, she's due in less than a week - We ended up keeping the worst behaved one, McAvity (well he is half barn cat). I'm very surprised I'm actually getting to type this with one of their "help". they're usually on my desk stalking the window bird feeders, or helping me type... sigh.
don't know what I was thinking... (okay, okay, yes I do...)

Sothis said...

I've always judged people by how they treat animals. I don't trust people who don't like animals--they usually aren't very good to people either. Don't stop being a sucker. The world needs more suckers. Keep throwing those starfish back in the water.

Callooh said...

this really happened, but I think I posted it half in reaction to my mother proudly telling me a story of how her little dog had killed one goose, and crippled another in the face and how she thought that was really wonderful. I sent her Mary Oliver's Wild Geese as part of my response, and she laughed it of, telling me a story of breaking baby birds necks on the farm while the mother screamed. My mom, tosses starfishes further up on the sand....