The Wild Life

The other night, as I was reading in bed, the bug bites on my ankle were driving me completely crazy.  I had over-scratched them already so I decided to try a hot compress instead, hoping that would relieve the itch.  I went into the bathroom, got the water super hot, then put a hot wash cloth on my ankle for a bit.  Ahhhh.  It totally worked.

When I was done, I went to hang up the washcloth, glanced into the shower, and screamed.  Holy cow!  There, on the edge of the shower, was an itty-bitty baby bird, staring up at me with its big black eyes.  I ran out of the bathroom and Todd asked, “Is there a spider in there?”  No, of course not, I am not at all afraid of spiders.  “A snake?”  “No,” I told him, “please just go in and look.”  So he walked in and said, “Oh wow, it’s that same baby bird.”   Yep.  We had rescued him just two days ago.  And I didn’t scream because I was afraid of him.  I screamed because I was so startled that this little guy had been staring up at me the whole time I had the hot washcloth on my ankle.  Anyway, Todd put on some garden gloves, put him back in his box, took him outside, and placed him on the roof over the deck.

The first time we met this baby bird was last Sunday morning.  I was working on my computer in the basement when I heard some birds making a crazy ruckus outside, so I decided to go check it out. When I walked out on the deck, sitting on the wire that crosses our backyard was a hummingbird, next to him was a finch-type bird, and two other hummingbirds were madly swirling around in the air.  Also, two large robins, presumably a mama and a papa, were swooping out of the sky chirping frantically, and in the middle of our yard in the grass there was a baby robin, also chirping frantically.


Miles came out and I showed him the baby bird and said, “What do you think we should do?”  He said we should put him in the tree.  But I didn’t think the baby bird could fly, so instead I gave Miles some gardening gloves and asked him to gently pick up the bird while I lined a box with an old t-shirt, then Miles put the bird into the box.  We put the box on the deck, but when Todd came out he put the box on the deck roof.  Very smart.  Up there he would be in the shade and away from the cat.  Then we all got in the car to go to Vashon Island to pick Nadine up from camp.

When we got back several hours later, there was still a lot of chirping going on.  I went out back and saw that the baby bird had hopped out the box and was standing at the very edge of the roof, right next to a tree.  When I checked on him a while later, he was gone, and the chirping had stopped.  Oh good, the family has been reunited, I optimistically imagined.  But early the next morning I heard more frantic chirping and when I went outside and located the source, it was our little baby bird again, at the tippy-top of the spruce tree.  Wow, how did he get way up there?  And that was the last I saw of him.  Until last night.

I’m not sure when he came into the house, but I do know who brought him in.  Maybe he fell out the tree again, I don’t know, but obviously the cat got a hold of him, brought him in through the cat door (ouch!) and released his little present in our bathroom, where he remained until I got my late-night fright.  When we checked on him in the morning he was gone and again I convinced myself that the family had reunited and that all was well with our baby bird.

I’ve been thinking about that little bird a lot lately.  As fragile as he seemed, he was really one tough bird.  Somehow he landed in the middle of my back yard and then (with a little help) made it to the top of a 30 foot tree, only to be captured by my cat two days later, and re-rescued by us.  Talk about the will to survive!  But he didn’t do it on his own.  His bird community (what was up with the hummingbirds being there?) got in on the action and all of that ruckus caused Miles and I to get involved and move him to safety.  Now that’s teamwork!

The baby bird incident isn’t my only recent run-in with the local wildlife.  Just two days prior I was woken up at 3:00 am by the sound of scratching on the window next to my bed.  I thought it was the cat asking to be let in, so I got up and lifted the shade.  It took a while for my eyes to adjust, but I could immediately see it wasn’t the cat.  It looked like the biggest rat I’d ever seen.  Oh no, it wasn’t a rat, it was a young opossum stuck in the window well, trying desperately to scratch his way out.

opossumTodd was out of town and I was on my own with this conundrum.  Ugh.  So I got up and headed to the back yard to find some sticks.  I thought maybe I could kind of chop-stick him out of the window well.  The first piece of wood I saw was a long flat board and when my sleepy brain started to work a little better I realized that all I needed to do was put a plank in the window well and the opossum could walk out himself.  It took some time, but it worked.  Thank God!

Funny thing is, the very next night, as I was driving down our alley, a little opossum crossed right in front of me, and I’m positive it was him again.  And as gross as you might think opossums are, I was so happy to see him alive and doing well.

Why am I writing about all of this?  I guess because it’s summer-time and summer-time means it’s also nature-time.  Starting with our trip to Glacier and Banff we were thrilled to see so many animals – bear, moose, big-horn sheep.  Then at the beach in Alabama it was the dolphin, sting ray, and crabs, and on our other camping trips we ran into deer, otters, seals, and loads of chipmunks.  And check out Miles and toad:

These run-ins with our animal neighbors are always so exciting, and so important.  Why?  Well I guess it’s because they remind us that we’re not alone, and that we need to accept, appreciate, and respect this fact.  I think Chief Seattle put it most eloquently:

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.

I am a firm believer that in the end, it’s not a competition.  We’re all in this together, so we might as well be helping each other out the best we can, and that doesn’t just apply to our human friends.  Chief Seattle also wisely said this:

What is man without the beasts? For if all the beast were gone, man would die of a great loneliness of the spirit.

I first came across that quote on a bottle of beer I ordered when traveling years ago in Africa.  It really stuck with me, because what a weird synchronicity, having traveled from Seattle to the middle of nowhere, then finding this quote on a bottle of African beer.  Funny.  But also profound.

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