For kids who love animals by a kid who loves animals
The coolest thing about living in a suburban area near multiple large parks, such as the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, is the spontaneous interactions I often have with small domesticated and wild animals while spending time outside. This moment I had just a few days ago demonstrates that very fact!
Almost daily these last few months I’ve been listening to music and going on morning runs with my dog, now that she’s old enough to actually keep up with me (or at least sorta run along without sniffing everything). It tends to energize me and serves as a transition between sleep and whatever activities I have during the day. I was almost about to complete this ritual when my dog yanked me towards a few bushes and shrubbery I pass on my usual route. At first, I figured that she was sniffing up a soda bottle or wrapper with some gum residue still left over, until I heard a little high-pitched tweeting. My dog was sniffing and licking after a little baby bird hopping around in the bush!
Out of reflex I grabbed the baby bird and clutched it in my closed hands, as they were I only place I could ensure Soji didn’t run off while also making sure she couldn’t possibly injure the little guy. But now, I found myself holding this fragile, furry bird shaking in my hands. Unsure of what to do and ready to unleash my dog to save my wrists from being chafed any more than they already were, I hurried home. I put him in an empty cardboard box on our table and then went to wash my hands well. The whole time, he was tweeting out a distressed call.
I was worried that, due to the myth I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard, the parents wouldn’t take him back under their care if he smelled like human. I called my other mom and she said that we might have to take him to a rescue center. However, I did some research on this issue through a few simple searches, and it turns out that the parents were more likely to accept a fledgling bird as opposed to a nestling. The bird I found was a fledging; he was still in the chick stage and not entirely matured, yet had developed a significant amount of fur and strength in his legs to carry his own weight, although still a little shaky on them. A nestling is much more dependent, and usually looks like those chirping, helpless naked red things that usually just squat in the nest and squeak for food.
So, I decided to give returning the baby bird to his parents a shot, following this advice. We hurriedly got dressed and drove back over to where I had been, peering over at our scared buddy to make sure he was still ok. I stepped out the car and walked out into the bushes, holding up the baby as he naturally began his call again. Almost immediately, one of the parents swooped over our heads, loudly repeating the call back in order to locate and communicate with their baby. So, I carefully put him on the ground from the cardboard box and walked back to the car, where my mom said she could see the parents hovering around anxiously.
After I got back in the car, the parents flew right over to where I had put the little guy, and we watched as they walked off as a three-bird family again! It was awe-inspiring and joyful witnessing them all come together. Sometimes as humans we wonder or muse about how animals really feel and think but in that moment it was so fascinating to see their intentions so clear and arguably, passionate.
In conclusion, you never know what new information you might learn about a relatively common scenario! I’m so, SO glad that I tried to reunite him with his parents before jumping straight to a wildlife center, which would’ve likely been a more difficult road for the little wild-raised bird. For sure, I felt a little happier that day going about my business, and more grateful, even when interacting with mostly just other people as I usually do. Plus, I’ve got pictures to prove it!