Sunday afternoon I came home from visiting a lady to the sound of angry screeching in the back yard.
While human screeching is not unheard of at our house, this was the screeching of LOTS of birds, which is odd so I peeked over the fence to investigate.
The power lines that run along our yard and one that comes to our house were littered with several types of birds (starlings, finches, etc) and ALL of them were screeching and crying.
When I looked down into our yard I saw a magpie there and that it was pecking at something in the grass. I watched as the magpie bent to grab the something and then kind of tossed it into the air. That's when I realized the something it had was a baby bird.
Now, there are no big trees in our yard and no neighbor trees overhang our yard so it seemed to me that this magpie had likely taken the infant from its nest and was now in our yard ready to pick it to pieces for an easy meal.
I am very aware of the ways of nature, I know that creatures eat each other all the time. I am an eater of meat so I willingly participate in the carnage of the hierarchy of food as well.
I also know that baby animals are often an easy target for predators looking for food. That's part of life and I get it.
But am not often asked to watch that scene play out live and in person in my own back yard.
And I found that I just couldn't stand to do it.
I rushed into the back yard and chased off the magpie who stayed in a nearby tree. When I turned to go inside to find a box and some gloves so I could inspect the tiny thing, the magpie immediately flew back onto my lawn looking to finish his lunch.
So I called Parker out to to stand guard while I went inside to gather supplies (he was very ardent in his duties and took his job quite seriously). Then we scooped up the fledgling and brought him inside.
He was not in good shape, but we could see he was breathing. We quick searched in the internet for "how to care for a baby bird" and tucked the little fellow into a box with a heating pad and an old t-shirt.
We read about what to feed him and found a couple of videos about making a mash of soggy dog food and flour and water, but that didn't really work out. Eventually I just went with my gut and mixed up some powdered milk into a thick kind of batter and that's what he's been eating. He sits up and chirps, mouth wide open when he's hungry and we're doing our best to care for him.
I'm not exactly sure where this is headed. I've never cared for a nestling before and I don't know how severe his injuries are. He does seem to have some issues, but he demands food regularly and he moves around in his box a bit so that seems like a good sign.
If I'm very honest, I'm not exactly thrilled to have a new avian charge under my wing. I already have a herd of six yea-hoos and a dog to care for.
However, I couldn't stand to watch him be gobbled up either so this is the consequence of that choice.
My kids are completely smitten with the little bugger and are anxious to help. We'll see how it goes. It is definitely a new adventure for us.
Wish us luck!