Monday, July 07, 2008

Eagle Hunt Delayed by Sparrow

The Anti-Eagle

I was pretty wiped out after work on the Fourth of July and had to take care of a few things, so I ran out of time for the eagle hunt. I'm hoping to get to it today.

Work on a holiday weekend is hectic enough. My duties grew more complex when the patriarch of the shop called me over while we were all out front watching Wolfeboro's parade.

"There's a baby bird here that fell out of the nest, and these kids are all upset and can't enjoy the parade. Can't you do something about it?" he said.

I suppose he imagined I would take it out back and club it with a tire iron to "put it out of its misery." You'd be miserable, too, if you'd fallen out of your safe nursery into a scary, noisy world full of huge creatures, indifferent at best, hostile at worst. One young thug had been winging rocks at the bird.

What I saw was a viable nestling, if only I could get it back to its parents or into a suitably quiet environment. I scooped it up and carried it into the shop. We lock up during the parade, so I had more than an hour to work this problem in peace.

I looked for succulent bugs I could squish in imitation of regurgitated food, but all I saw was ants. I've never seen a bird chow down on ants. Rather than waste a lot of time on it, I moved on to rehydrating the little bugger. He (she?) would take drips from a paper towel. Then I went on line to look for a rehabilitator. I'd dealt with a woman in Madison a couple of years ago with a young squirrel. I hoped I might find someone closer, but I had to start somewhere.

One phone call at a time, to Madison, then Meredith, I was able to arrange foster care and get instructions to help keep the bird alive. Every ten minutes I dripped diluted sports drink onto its beak until closing time. Then my associate in the workshop, who had overslept and had to drive instead of bike, kindly transported it to a rendezvous with the rehabilitator.

In the early stages of this process, when I still cradled the bird in my right hand, I saw bird lice swarming up my arm. I was pretty sure I interdicted all of them before they invaded my armpit and moved on to hairier pastures. Once I had the bird in a nest cup to await transport I executed the straggling lice with a bike spoke heated over a butane lighter as they crawled up the tissue paper away from the nestling. But when I got home, Laurie suggested a thorough shower and immediate laundering of all my garments. Probably a better idea than going paddling in my buggy shirt. Then it was 5 p.m. and I'd really had enough. Figure a minimum of two hours start to finish for the most cursory trip to Province Lake...not worth it. I still had to work full hours on Saturday.

My associate reported that the he passed the bird, still cheeping, to its next custodian. So it made it that far.

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