A true story, with Bear Power
|author’s note: we store away notes for stories, or squirrel them away, if you’ll pardon the expression. This one was written May 20, 2003, and didn’t get found until four years later.|
Bob came in to the computer room and said that a baby bird had been splashing in the pool and had somehow got sucked into the pool skimmer! I asked, “Where is he now?”
It seems that our bathing youngster had escaped or been swept away, for, when I lifted the cover of the skimmer, there was simply no bird visible at all.
Just to be sure, I immersed my hand into the skimmer well, and reached sideways through the tunnel connecting to the pool itself. There was something there, all right. But, it felt slimy – not what I expected!
Whatever it was, it had to come out. I grasped and pulled gently. In my cupped hand, with water draining through my fingers, was a thoroughly saturated, soggy baby bird not much larger than a golf ball, and nearly as heavy with water. But was it still alive?
At first, I was sure it was a goner. But something about the way it had held its head when I pulled it out told me it might have been sucking air from an air pocket in that dark skimmer well. I lightly toweled off excess water from its feathers with my T-shirt while Bob went to get a terrycloth.
It started shivering violently and coughing, a kind of dry silent wracking heave. This was not good.
This was a juvenile of a species that, as an adult, might grow to be about size size and shape of a fat sparrow, or a skinny chickadee. We are not birders.
We put the bird in the terrycloth to help absorb water and to get the baby further from the smell of a human hand. I thought about the chlorine in the water and watched it trying to open its eyes, talking to it softly. It continued to shiver, so I kept it in the sun as long as I dared, mindful of overheating on this 106 degree Phoenix day. There was a gentle warm breeze. After a while it seemed that this little bunch of water-compacted feathers might be beginning to dry its outer feathers, but it was still shivering and coughing violently.
I took it, still nestled in the terrycloth, to the patio where we could sit and watch it. C.Bear joined us, and encouraged the baby bird: “Don’t worry, Mr. Birdie, just hang in there. I know everything will work out!”
After about half an hour, our charge was trying to stand up on its legs on the terrycloth, so I put the cloth down on a warm patch of ground near the fence where all its bird pals normally perch, and I retreated so we could watch it from afar.
In another half hour, its body feathers seemed to have fluffed up noticeably. When I approached it, I found that it had started chirping for mommy, but it so far had made no serious attempt to walk or fly. It was still coughing, and still shivering or trembling, but perhaps not as much. We got it some bird seed, but appetite was not an issue yet and this was ignored.
Soon it took a couple of tentative steps on the terrycloth, fluttered its wings, and skittered into the split-log pool pump shed. It was recovering!
There, a little bird could peep through fence slats or split logs and still have a measure of safety. It hopped around frantically, as if trying to find its friends, and then snuggled quietly up against the fence, calling out once in a while for its pals.
I checked again at dusk and the baby bird was still there. Would it survive the night? If it did, it would probably make it.
Bob arose early the next morning and here is what he saw: the baby bird flew up onto the fence and started chit-chatting with a new pal. Then they both flew off in a straight line to the southwest. Mr. Birdie’s rescue was made good.
C.Bear and the fellers rejoiced in this news. They sat around on the bed discussing it. When times turn tough, there is nothing like a good attitude and plenty of Bear Power!
© Alex Forbes, posted 8-27-2007
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