Sunday, June 19, 2011

I'm a Grandmother!

We live in a flyway. I guess somewhat of a well-known one, as flyways go. Dedicated birders visit the little town of Westby every year to catch glimpses of....what, I don't know. I'm still trying to learn a whole new set of bird identities. The key point is that we have a lot of birds. A LOT.

Last Tuesday we had a thunderstorm roll through the area, and after it passed Laura went out and found a baby bird fallen out of the nest. I fully expected it to quickly pass this mortal coil as all baby birds have done in the past (all but Hoover, the one sparrow my sister managed not to kill), but rather than die, she has thrived.

Laura assumed the burden of care since she was the one who discovered it, and suddenly I found myself a Grandmother at 22 (plus 10). At first, young Rain wasn't a very prepossessing sight; she resembled nothing so much as a very ugly bonsai vulture. But her feathers have quickly fluffed in, and now only 6 days after Laura found her, she is almost ready to fledge.

After reading some of the articles on line, all of which begin with extensive notices of the illegality of keeping wild birds (Fine! YOU keep it.), we settled on a mixed diet of flies (tragically easy to catch around here), egg yolk, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, canned cat food, and cut up berries. I got the feeling that she would have eaten tin cans if we'd fed them to her.

In the last few days we've begun to take her outside sometimes to get used to the big, wide world. She sits there like a lump unless one of us is near, then she begins her raucous peeping, demanding food, and right now if you please! She also seems to find some security in our presence. I hope this doesn't turn out like having my kids move back in with me in their forties. I'm ready for the empty nest and all!

Laura has been doing a great job with her new mothering duties, but she has added an additional challenge this week. Sabbath afternoon we picked up the baby kitty she's been eagerly awaiting for the last several weeks. Not only is she tackling two children at once, but one of her children would like very much to eat the other. Talk about sibling rivalry!

We've spent the last couple days taming Snickers and getting him settled in. He was still very frightened and wild when we brought him home, but there wasn't a mean bone in his body. Finley thought the newcomer was entrancing right up until he hissed and scratched at him. Now he gives Snickers a wide, offended berth. Poppy took one look and expressed herself in an indignant spat and has since ignored the upstart as unworthy of her attention. Anika hasn't been allowed in and contents herself with lingering snuffles at the bedroom door. She is the only one of the dogs that likes to chase cats. We are still awaiting what will happen when Princess Jackie the Obsessed sees her new squeaky toy. I don't think it will be very pretty.

Meanwhile, we have had a couple other transient visitors to our family. It is that difficult and vulnerable time of year when the young birds leave their nests, but still aren't able to fly well enough to escape various predators such as cats, hawks, and worst of all, well-meaning children. First Devon caught a sparrow that wasn't quite fast enough, then Laura and Tiggy brought home a mourning dove. Yesterday, it was another sparrow, this time one that Laura brought in. Enough already! Let the young birds alone! They are rather cute, though....

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