Sunday, April 30, 2006

casualties of cleanup

We did some real cleanup in the backyard yesterday. When I said we have some weed trees, I mean we have 8 or 9, full-fledged, 25-30 feet tall, vine-matted trees weaving in and out of electrical and phone cables. This is a job for ladder, rope, Sawzall and fortitude. Not to mention a deep respect for danger and an understanding of physics and engineering. We removed two of the biggest trees on the side of the house. I can't believe I can lift my arms to the keyboard this morning.

The last tree limb we pulled out of the jungle had a nest. Didn't see it until the three (plop, plop, plop) baby birds landed on the soft grass. I am no more zookeeper than farmer, so I was alarmed and awash with guilt. Barbara, calm lover-of-all-things-helpless-and-small told me to go get some gloves and a shoebox. I bounded inside and got the things. She lifted the now empty nest out of the downed limb and carefully placed the almost fully-feathered birdlets back into it. We placed it on some bowers up on air conditioning unit cage near the downed tree. Birds have nested there before and it seemed safer from cats and squirrels than anyplace else we could reach. Then, we waited. The parental birds (I assume...not seeing any resemblance outside my ignorant, prejudicial: all brownish birds look alike) circled, scolded and fretted. We went inside and finally, the mother bird came down and began feeding her relocated offspring. I may not be in touch with Nature, but I get walloped by guilt if I create orphans.

All is well. The three little mockingbirds (more guilt) or sparrows (slightly less) seem to be fine. We've seen them fed a number of times and they made it through the night just fine. We are going to add more protective foliage next time the parents go foraging. I think the little critters are a little too exposed.

Oh, and a stinkbug startled me during the earlier demolition. (I suspect the degree of startle on its part was slightly higher than mine but it's so hard to tell...their 1-inch armored bodies are so aggressive-looking) Suppressed the yelping noise I wanted to make. I'm not truly afraid of bugs (okay, wasps make me want to pee in my pants) or reptiles, I just hate the surprise aspect. Which is why Nature continues to creep up on me. Nature loves a good joke and I'm a walking temptation.

P.S. Found a fourth baby bird this morning. Jesuschrist. The runt of the clutch (that sounds wrong...maybe there's another word for runt when you're not talking about a litter) had nestled in the root system of the downed tree. It was cold and I thought it was a goner. Barbara put it back in the nest but it was too weak to hold its own, so she brought it inside and it has made something of an amazing come-back. It is eating worms like a champ and making the appropriate squeaky noises. I'm still not sure it can survive but we'll see. The other three in the nest are completely okay, eating and squawking like they'd never been tossed out.

1 comment:

Nini's sistuh said...

Hurray for Dr. Barbara!