Saturday, July 02, 2016

An Unnecessary Rescue

The robins were making a gawd-awful racket last evening so I stopped my watering to see what on earth was going on. Along with the calling out, there were two or three robins flitting around the trees. I couldn't tell if they were chasing each other or not. But it was obvious all was not right in Robin World.
"Hold the dog," my husband said to me and started across the lawn towards the potting shed. He disappeared then came back with his hands cupped together.
Inside them was a baby robin. Not infant-baby but feathered and spotted baby.
"I don't think he can fly," Dwayne said. "I saw him fall out of the tree and he was hopping toward the ditch."
Now the robins were shouting and flying, almost dive-bombing us, now that we had the baby in hand.
"I'll bet one of the grackles dumped it out of the nest," Dwayne said so we began searching the maple trees for it.
"Show us your nest," I implored the robins.
As they flitted through the leafy limbs, I spotted a nest -- the nest? -- in the crook of some branches.
"Hold this," Dwayne said and palmed the baby into my hands. Amazing how strong a young robin is. I didn't want to squash it but it struggled mightily to escape. Whenever it chirped, two robins raced overhead.
I kept holding it up. "He's safe. I have it. We're putting in the nest."
Dwayne put the ladder against the tree, stuffed the baby bird inside his shirt -- "Ouch. His toenails are sharp." -- and climbed the ladder to put him back in.
The baby bird promptly flew out.
He went the opposite direction this time, towards the other ditch, and as I rushed over, the dog -- I had forgotten about the dog -- beat me to it and scooped it up in her mouth.
"NO." I can't describe the sound of my voice, the drop-it-or-die voice. She dropped it and ran away.
The baby bird lay on the grass, its stunted wings spread, gasping out its small, yellow beak.
"Next time we want to rescue a bird," I said, "tell me to put the dog in the house, not just hold on to her."
The baby began to hop across the lawn and two robins were now flitting through the trees around it.
"We're done here," I said and we backed away.

Thinking about this as I returned to my watering, I came to two conclusions:
1) We've never witnessed this before because until this summer, we've had outdoor cats. Perhaps young robins who miscalculated their readiness for flight were immediately snatched up by the cats.
2) Like fawns discovered hidden under trees, perhaps the robins knew how to handle this all on their own. Human intervention isn't always needed; sometimes, human intervention, with an assist from the dog, can make things worse.
As I wrapped up my watering, Dwayne came out of the house.
"The baby robin came out of the ditch and flew a bit towards the house. He landed on that bottom step. I think he was telling me he's okay. I told you, we are bird people."
I think we should remain bird watchers.

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