Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Don't Really Know For Certain

With errands to run in town this morning we all climbed into the truck at about 9:30am heading for Cody.
As we slowly drove down our dirt and gravel road, again cursing at the potholes that the city only partially filled in when they half-heartedly graded the road only two months ago I looked out the front window of the truck.
And was startled to see a baby bird sitting on the hood of the truck beside the passenger side windshield wiper.
We have seen a nest underneath the rafters of the storage building in the driveway for what seems like a long time now, and were both surprised to realize that there seemed to be not one, but a few small and noisy adult barn swallows swooping in and out from underneath the rafters.
We quickly realized that this must be one of the babies from the nest.
Turning the truck around we headed back to the house.
Leaving Jamie in the truck LC and I watched the baby bird for a few moments, looked up and were both surprised for the second time this morning to see that the nest was...........gone.
It was not one of those wide open top twig built nests that I am so used to seeing.
Rather it was wide at the back against the shed wall and then narrowed as you made your way to the front of it, with only a small hole for entry.
I never did take a picture of it and am disappointed that I did not because now it is gone.
Simply vanished.
With no sign at all of what once was a secure home for baby birds either on the shed or on the ground below it.
So the question remained - what to do with a little baby bird who seemed to be very comfortable resting on our hood and who seemed to be in no hurry to leave?
Not wanting to touch it and place human scent on it LC used a newspaper to pick up this small and fragile baby thing and then moved the paper upwards slightly hoping that little bird would fly.
He did.
About 10 feet.
And then promptly got himself caught up in the wire of a partial fence separating our yard from the neighbors.
Jamie and the little bird....................
And little bird who managed to get one of his wings caught up in the wire of this old piece of fence.............
LC used two of his fingers to gently unhook the baby wing from the wire and then quickly stepped away from him.
So much for not wanting to touch him, but little guy seemed to have no skills to pull himself free so we felt like we had no choice.
Baby turned himself around and rested silently on a beam................
We both stood back watching for a while speculating what had happened to the nest and why this baby was now by himself.
Neither one of us knew anything about swallows aside from the fact that these noisy little birds are numerous in this area and have exceptional dive bombing skills.
And that at that moment this baby was silent, and we could neither hear nor see any others in the area.
Regardless, he was safely off the truck and was safely untangled from the fence and we headed back to the truck and finally to town so that we could continue with our plans...................

We arrived back at the house at 12:30pm and were both surprised and dismayed to see that our new little charge was still sitting in the exact same place on the beam.
That wasn't good.
He was too little to be without food for this long and obviously too little to be by himself.
Something was definitely not right with this entire scenario.
LC walked towards the apparently healthy bird and surprisingly he took flight.
For another 10 feet then gently came down to the ground.
Oh hell.
What were we going to do with this bird?
Gently half picking him up by hand and half scooping him up with the newspaper we placed him on a wooden shelf that was resting beside the shed.
My thought at the time was if he was healthy why wasn't he flying and why wasn't he making any noise?
I had no idea but it was getting hot. 
Too hot in the sun for little birds....................
We put grass on the shelf in front of him and walked into the house.
I was worried about a bird but there was nothing I could do.
I checked on him at 1pm  Still there.  Still silent.  Still (by all appearances) bright eyed.
I checked at 1:30pm.  The same.
OK.  Stop it Karin.  There is nothing you can do for this bird. 
I was resigned to the fact that most likely little thing would not make it, and I began to eye the increasingly dark clouds that were rolling in over both Rattlesnake Mountain and Carter Mountain and making their way in this direction.
Suddenly a small flock of dive-bombing swallows zigged and zagged and sang overhead and suddenly baby bird began to sing to them.  They chirped and he chirped. 
Over and over and the adults continued their acrobatic flight overhead.
I stood watching the adults, listening to baby and adults communicating with each other, waiting and hoping that little bird would fly up to them or a momma would fly down to him.
Eventually the adults disappeared. 
And baby went silent again.
I wish I had a happy ending to this little story.
Maybe I do but I don't really know for certain.
When I walked outside again at 2pm he was gone.
The grass was still laying on the shelf but baby was gone.
With trepidation I walked over to the shelf, walked around the truck, scanned the area around me looking for a bird on the ground but he was just gone.
Just like the nest this morning that had mysteriously vanished. 
Just like the momma and other adults who have been diving in and out of that nest for well over a month.
I would like to think that baby found his wings - or found his momma - or found other caretakers who will show him the bird ropes and that one day he will also begin dive-bombing in the yard.
But I don't really know for certain...................

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