Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Was Attacked by Cardinals!

Okay, so this is a good thing - really!  And the story goes like this:

On Sunday, July 20th, I was out picking my daughter up from work and my husband called me to let me know there was a baby bird on the ground in our yard.  When I got home, I checked it out and saw that it was a very young bird but could not identify it by type - only half its feathers had come in and its eyes were still closed.

I am an animal lover, but one who sees the circle of life.  I looked in vain for a nest it had come out of, and knew that I had to leave it to survive the night - or not.  Even though we live in a suburban neighborhood, we have our share of wildlife that has integrated back into this environment where they once lived when this area was farmland, pasture, or fields.  Aside from the occasional cat or dog, it would not have been out of the ordinary for a fox or hawk or racoon to pass through our yard and see him.  But instead, on Monday morning - there was this.

Monday was a hot day - a high of 95 degrees, but when you think about it, it would have been just as hot or hotter in a nest so I didn't let that get me down.  Besides, at one point during the day I looked out to see a pair of Northern Cardinals flitting around the tree he was at the base of, and thought he might be a baby Cardinal.  The other thing I finally saw that day by looking up through the leaves in a different place was all that remained of the nest.  We didn't have any really high winds, I can only think that this was the 2nd hatching this season for these birds, and the first brood must have been really tough on the nest.  I have read that when a nestling falls out of its nest, if you leave the bird alone many times the parents will continue to care for and feed it on the ground. Having seen the cardinals around - and that the baby seemed to be thriving, I assumed that's what was happening.  Last night, I posted the above photo on Google plus, and received the suggestion to put the baby bird in a shoe box with a towel and tie the box back up in the tree.  It was too late at night to do it, but it sounded like such a great idea, I vowed to do it in the morning - if the bird was still in the same place.

Today is Tuesday the 22nd of July, and I as I returned from my walk, I started looking for the baby bird.  Still there!  Not only still there, but more feathers and eyes open!  Less than 24 hours had passed, isn't nature incredible?

I went inside and got a little basket, put a towel in it and tied it to the tree with twine.  My next move was picking up the baby bird and climbing up the stepladder to put him in the basket. What a racket he made!  That was when the parents appeared out of nowhere next to my head up in the trees and started "chip! chip! chip! chipping" away.  They were about 2-3 feet from me and I assured them I was only trying to help - but it seems to no avail because at that moment, the baby bird (having grown much stronger) immediately hopped out of the basket and flopped back onto the ground! Even worse, as I went inside to grab something, I came back out and he was in the middle of the street!  I grabbed him again (with the mom and dad squawking/helping/thanking me?) and put him under the tree.

The whole family - dad on the rock to the right, mom on the left and Jr. is the tiny head in front of mom
I had to go out to the pet store and decided to pick up some dried mealworms (which I can always use the rest of as treats in my birdfeeders) and when I returned, my daughter told me that I'd just missed the mom feeding him breakfast. :-) I went ahead and put a few mealworms around him and hoped he was a bit more settled.

When I went outside to check on him after starting to write this, he was nowhere to be found - thankfully not as a splat on the street - but I kept listening for the call of the parents.  I am hoping they coaxed him under our big blue spruce - there is plenty of cool cover there, and he just might make it after all...