View Full Version : The Trials Of Taking Care of the Baby Birds

06-10-2003, 12:00 AM
Earlier this Spring, my husband took a ladder outside to change our porch light, and neglected to bring it back in. Hell, I'll admit it. We're lazy people. It sat out there for a few days. When I finally got around to bringing it back in, I noticed that there was the start of a nest on top.

"Awww," I thought. "I'll get to watch the baby birdies!" So, I left it there.

The expectant parents turned out to be robins. Momma Bird flew away in a panic every time Hubby or I went in and out of the door. We actually tried to curtail the amount of times we used that door in order to save her the stress. We were concerned she'd abandon the nest.

A few times, I peeked inside. She had three purty blue eggs, which hatched into three ugly, large mouthed babies, who would lift their heads in unison, mouths agape and necks quiverring when they heard approaching footsteps. I loved to watch them.

The other day, a terrible thing happened. There had been a storm while I was at work, and the ladder had blown over. Horrified, I raced up the sidewalk, tossed my groceries aside, and set the ladder upright. The nest lay on our brick porch, upside down, and in front of it sat three soaking-wet and miserable-looking chicks.

Once I had the nest repositioned, I tried to catch the chicks. All in all, their age was a positive thing, because it probably helped them survive the accident, but I wasn't very happy about their mobility at the time.

The little fuckers hopped every which way, flapping their little wings, and letting out pitiful shrieks when I managed to grab them. Worse, as soon as I would pop one in the nest and turn around to catch another, the first one would fling himself out, and plop onto the brick. Finally, I managed to get two back inside, and held my hands overtop of them until they cowered down and stayed put.

In the melee, one had escaped. I looked everywhere for him. Mind you, this is in the driving rain. I felt much like Audrey Hepburn, searching an alleyway for "Cat." After about ten minutes, I gave up, and went inside, hoping against hope that in a while, he'd figure it was safe to come out of hiding and then I could sneak up and grab him.

In the mean time, I started a thread to ask about their survival chances. My biggest fear was that all of my activity had scared the mother away for good. She had dive-bombed me while I was snatching up her young, and then perched in a tree, chirping madly. However, I was assured that she would still come back to them, and would feed the one I never found on the ground. I felt much better. They were still in the nest this morning.

Then, this evening, I was downstairs in the basement when my husband came home. He said the nest was empty, but that one was sitting on the porch. "Momma Bird must be teaching them to fly," I said, and went upstairs to watch through the window.

Regretfully, it was pretty uneventfull and I finally decided to go back down to the basement to read. Engrossed in my book, it was probably about an hour before I heard it: one of the babies was trapped in the window well.

The basement window wells are covered by two heavy steel grates. One of the babies slipped through, and couldn't get out. He would flutter upwards and then smack into the bars and tumble back down. Sighing, I put my book aside and called for my husband, knowing I'd never be able to lift the grates.

He was able to lift the first one, but the second was welded down. I tried to cram my arm through, but just couldn't reach far enough. Again, Momma Bird is freaking out in the trees.

I used Hubby's baseball cap to extend my reach, trying to scoop up the wayward youngster. He hopped around madly, neatly avoiding my makeshift net every time. My frustration grew with each passing moment, but I couldn't just leave him there. He would die, because his mother probably wouldn't try to squeeze down there to feed him, and apparently, his little two-watt brain wouldn't supply the solution. I felt stupid myself, growling at him, "I'm trying to help you, dammit!" It took me about twenty minutes to catch the little bugger, because I was afraid of crushing him.

Finally, I got him, pulled him up, and dumped him from the hat onto the ground. He hopped across the lawn, and sat there, staring at me accusingly. As we have no cats in our neighborhood, I felt safe in just leaving him there. This evening, he was gone, along with the rest of the brood.

I'm glad. My responsibilities as host have ended. You're on your own, guys. And next year, I'm going to remember to put the damn ladder away.