Maine Observer: A Little Bird from Learning Lessons
I’m not a bird person of much. Birds made pleasant songs, and gave our cats something to watch. My outlook changed one summer, when I had a close-up, personal experience with a wild bird.
During a walk, I glanced down at a baby bird on the stepping stone. He lay on the edge of the gravel on the road. His eyes looked up and saw me, and an orange-tinted mouth opened for food.
Still covered in downy feathers, he was too young to fly. I thought he must have fallen out of his nest. My quick decision was to take him home with me. He relaxed into my palm and chirped as I walked back to my house.
After researching online, I was disheartened to learn that my “abandoned” chick was, in fact, a fledgling robin that parents were still feeding on. I called for a wildlife rehabilitator, but was told, “You should have left him where you found him.”
At that point, I felt responsible for doing my best to save the chick. Choking back my gag reflex, I dug up several squirming earthworms, and set about to feed my charge. He was famished by then, and nearly swallowed by the tweezers along with the worms. His appetite sated, he shut his beak, closed his eyes, and was soon asleep.
When he let me know he was hungry, that’s for sure. He could emit an amazing volume of noise! He has great delight with consumed worms, cat food, and blueberries.
He grew up, and so did his feathers. He started to flap his wings. Soon, he had so much pent-up energy with the flailed away that it was clear he was ready to fly.
My husband and I brought him outside. He hopped across the deck table, leaped, and hit the side of the house. Undaunted, he tried again. Within the hour, he made his first flight. The next day, his flying practice continued. He made a rapid improvement as he traveled from tree to tree. Still dependent on me for food, however, when he came to me I called him, eager to be fed.
I made the difficult decision to leave. He’s a wild bird, I reminded myself, He can’t be caged forever. Let him fly free.
The next morning, I called. “Little Robin!”
Silence, and then a raucous, “Cheep!” He flew down and landed on my outstretched arm!
He stayed several days for our yard. But the ways of partying are near. An adult robin with a lively, back-and-forth conversation as I took him one afternoon. It was a bittersweet moment.
He came less often for food. One morning he took a couple worms and a blueberry, some more, and quickly flew away. We never saw him again. Did our young robin survive his first year? Did he leave any descendants? We will never know, but because of him, I will never again take our backyard birds for granted.
– Special to the Telegram