Monday, June 27, 2016

Bird Watchers

Ray says I have made him soft.

This after he took a break from grilling on Saturday to give a baby bird a strawful of water.

The storm that blew in Thursday night took out a limb on our Bradford Pear tree. (I know, they are the devil for countless reasons.) When Ray woke me up Friday morning to say he was going to borrow a chainsaw that night to cut it up (a little too excitedly, by the way), I didn’t think much of it.

Until I saw this. Not quite the 'limb' I was expecting. 

Thankfully, it missed our tomato plants on its way down. (I don't think we can handle another year without tomatoes.)

Driveway tomatoes this year. Safe and sound. Whew.

Friday afternoon after we had some tree guys come out, we noticed two little baby birds had been un-nested and landed in the middle of our concrete driveway. They barely had feathers and didn’t look so great.

I told Ray not to touch them or get too close or the mom will abandon them. This is an old wives tale, it turns out. We now know this from Google as well as experience — while waiting to see what was going to happen, something happened. One of them died.

RIP baby bird. Sorry we didn’t do more for you sooner.

But after the first death, Ray declared the backyard a state of emergency in an effort to save the sole survivor. He was Googling, peeking around the back deck to check on it, and occasionally running the gauntlet of adult robins squawking at him whenever he’d get near the baby bird.

Momma bird was also frantically flying around with a worm in her mouth to feed him, so that was good. But even if he got fed, the poor guy was still lunch on a concrete platter for the wandering cats, raccoons and other predators that go through our backyard.

I asked Ray if maybe the mom couldn’t somehow lift him into the tree.

No, he said.

What about if she had a robin friend, and they each grabbed a leg and carried him?


Maybe she was devising some kind of pulley system to get him back up into the nest?

No? Okay fine.

Then how about we make him a ‘nest’ from a Gladware container and nail it to the tree? (And by ‘we,’ I meant Ray.)

So Ray donned some latex gloves, braved the angry robin-mom gauntlet that was now the baby bird state of emergency on Erie Avenue, and moved the little guy to the Gladware, adding some some torn-up pieces of paper towel for his ‘nest.’

You just can’t shut-off the genius switch at our household.

That is until later that evening when we realized my idea was basically the FEMA trailer of birdhouses. He was in full afternoon/evening sun with no shade in clear plastic box. Brilliant.

Plus, his mom had taken offense to the shredded paper towel and carried each and every bit of it over the fence and littered it onto the neighbor’s back patio.

(Lol. That robin-mom is a litter bug.)

So yesterday Ray built him a proper birdhouse and moved him under duress from the male robin, who Ray says ‘locked eyes with me and gave me the what-for. You should have heard the language he was using.

Now every few hours Ray comes and gives me a report.

‘The little guy is still alive.’
‘His mom is out there with worms for him.’
‘He’s still there, I saw him moving.’


Talk about a bird who wants to live. He got knocked out of his nest not by the storm, but by the tree trimmers, hit the concrete, baked in the sun and watched his brother die. Then he got stuffed into a plastic box which was hot enough to cook him, all before getting moved to a penthouse by a human with weird gloves on. Oh, but he did get some water by a strange man with a bendy straw when it was 90 degrees on Saturday.

Talk about a rough weekend. And an amazing story for his bird friends when he gets to kindergarten.

Already he looks so grown up. Before long he’ll be leaving the nest and going to pre-school, then first dates, then prom

But this is why Ray says I’ve made him soft.

‘Before I met you, I sure as hell wasn’t giving baby birds water through a straw or building them birdhouses.’


Then he adds, ‘It says here that only 30 percent of songbirds survive their first year of life. Our guy still has a long way to go. We’re not out of the woods yet.’

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