My daughter Izzy is sort of a bird whisperer. Our cat, Speedo, fancies himself quite the hunter. I’ve seen him swallow live, flying moths the size of a child’s hand in one gulp. But once or twice a year, Speedo nabs himself a baby bird. He brings it in the back door, into the kitchen, and then squeaks and squeals until we pay attention. And then Izzy steps in.
She shoos the cat away and starts cooing to the dewy-eyed, little winged creatures that are paralyzed with fear. So far she’s rescued six birds and convinced me to drive two of them an hour up PCH and into the canyon to the only local rescue place that will even consider taking a slightly dinged up birdie. The first time we rescued a baby jay and were so grateful to the California Wildlife Center, I wrote a check. The second saving was completely embarrassing. We rescued a young pigeon. I wrote a slightly smaller check, mumbling thanks and backing red-faced out the door. Izzy said, “A life is a life. Aren’t you happy you saved a pigeon?”
Today’s catch was some sort of sparrow. I believe it was technically a fledgling and not a baby. Izzy was late for school because she insisted on washing out the cat carrier, lining it with towels and supplying the little guy with a dish of water. Scott was basically sticking his fingers in his ears and singing out la, la, la, I don’t want to know about the bird because he had a traumatic duckling experience as a child. I fetched towels and told Izzy not to name this creature. We can call him TBRS.6–To Be Released Soon.6. She cooed more and said in a possessive tone that his name was Ringo.
Scott and Izzy looked on the internet and discovered what you feed fledglings. Cat food, smashed up and made into a paste. Then you put it in a plastic bag and cut a little off one corner. You can feed the bird this way. But trust me, it won’t eat. Amalia finished getting ready for school and then paced, worried that we’d be late. Scott, relented on his stance against the bird and pounded cat food into a powder, presumably fine enough for young birds.
The bird survived the school day. Izzy texted me throughout the day asking after Ringo. I responded that I didn’t know of anyone named Ringo, but the baby bird was doing okay. She said, “You know exactly who Ringo is. Let me give you a hint, he’s not a Beatle.”
He was chirping by the time Izzy got home. He seemed ready to face the cruel world once more. So we took him outside. Izzy opened her hands and he flew off. A little low maybe, a little uncertainly, but it looked like he was aiming for the tree.
Instead, he flew past the tree, across the street and straight into a parked car. He then crawled under the car, maybe because he was embarrassed. Izzy coaxed him out and we took him back over to our front porch. Tried feeding him the cat food paste (he refused). He just sat there, kind of watching us. Then I dripped water on his beak and head. He flew off! Yay!
And crashed into the parked car again. I have to confess. I laughed so hard my eyes teared up and then I laughed even harder because for a split second I couldn’t help but be that mean. Izzy’s friend, Taylor, was cracking up too. St. Izzy ran over to save the little thing that Darwin would have left behind. Our neighbor wandered over to see what we were up to and offered us a nest he’d once grabbed on a forest forage. He cautioned that baby birds don’t live once they’re out of the nest. But then he had an idea.
The last I knew, Ringo aka STBR.6 was happily, anthropomorphically chirping in my neighbor’s back yard. There’s an old bird house the former owners left behind. I imagine him telling the other birds all about his adventures. Embellishing just a little about how he played dead and got away from the cat. He probably left out the bit about flying straight into the parked car twice.