One time I rescued a baby bird. And it was nothing like those feel-good movies make it out to be.
It was one of those drowsy summer days, the type that leave impressions of infinite warmth and blossoms. My mother and I were on a walk in artificial suburbia when we came upon a fuzzy baby bird screaming for food upon the sidewalk. TO SAVE OR NOT TO SAVE? My selfish desire to be a superhero kicked in and I brashly decided to conquer my previously unknown fear of natural animals. Swallowing the panic that was slowly creeping into my throat, I tried to figure out how to pick up the fragile creature without damaging the bird or my sense of well-being. With my mother making the “you’re a total wimp” face at my failed attempts to pick up a harmless baby, I gritted my teeth and finally got the ugly infant to hop into my palm. Man did that freak me out. When the bird stretched its wings, it became evident that it was not the innocent baby bird I had first thought it to be, but rather a skeleton decorated with tufts of fur. Not to mention the fact that it viewed my fingers as food. Fear gripped my entire being as the ugly creature clung to my hand.
However, the thing that scared me above all else was the thought of the baby dying in my hands. No matter how much I feared the beast, the need to nurture this tiny life and ensure its survival cancelled out all other emotions. I WAS GOING TO BE A SUPER HERO ONE DAY, DAMMIT. The weight of responsibility pounded through my veins as I tried to walk with a combination of speed and grace (a motion that rather made me look like I had just pooped my pants) so I could get home and save the helpless creature from its imminent doom.
Fantasies of dancing around my backyard with my lifelong bird friend (who I would name Chastàin because that’s an EFFIN CLASSY name) and a montage of my little friend growing from a helpless baby into something like a noble Pidgeot with a scarf waltzed through my head as I slowly made my way back to homebase. I was going to be Jean Craighead George! I was totally one with nature!
Oh how little did I know.
I couldn’t figure out if excessive chirping was a good or bad sign, so I tried to keep the baby at what I thought was a moderate noise level by occasionally shaking the bucket I had made as its temporary emergency vehicle. Once I finally arrived home, I booted up the laptop and iPad simultaneously to devour as much knowledge on baby birds as quickly as possible. TIME WAS OF THE ESSENCE AND THE LIFEFORCE OF MY PRECIOUS BABY BIRD WAS DIMINISHING WITH EVERY PASSING SECOND. I not-so-gently transferred my captive into a makeshift nest and got to studying. The bird soon quieted down, but this silence was not golden. This silence was what I believed to be an omen of DEATH. My studying quickened.
Following the directions from the all-knowing internet, I softened dog kibble in hot sugar water and attempted to feed the bird with this mystical life-saving ambrosia whilst my mother rolled her eyes and watched to make sure I didn’t let the “germ-infested” creature loose. Fantasies of my gentlemanly pidgeot and dances with birds were then slowly crushed by a truth I had sensed all along: I am not fit to care for and save little lives. The infinite knowledge on birds I had gathered during my 20-minute search on Google was not enough. My inadequacy was further confirmed by the baby’s complete unwillingness to partake in the soggy dog food fated to save its life. A sense of dread filled my entire being as I realized what I must now do: I had to take the fledgling back and undo the ignorant mistake I had viewed as a potentially heroic story.
Thanks, ego. Good intentions + overstatement of ability – actual ability = FAILURE.
During the car ride back, the baby decided to stop playing dead and instead HOP OUT OF ITS FREAKING BASKET WHILE I WAS FREAKING DRIVING. Between trying to keep the baby from killing itself and trying to make sure it didn’t peck out my eyes, our lives were put into jeopardy by oncoming traffic and curbside trash cans. I arrived at my destination in a state of panic and jumped out of the car, terror striking my face white. Mustering up the remainder of my courage, I opened the car door and began my hunt for the minuscule bird, using my sonar location skills to pinpoint the origin of the deadly tweets. Eventually the baby hopped out from under the driver’s seat, looking annoyed and pissed off. I used my worm-like fingers to coax the baby back into the basket and flung the nest and its inhabitant into the grass before quickly driving off to freedom.
As I glanced into my rearview mirror, I saw the bird immediately hop from its makeshift nest and begin prowling in search of its next victim. I realized then what an idiot I had been. Rescuing a “helpless” baby bird based off of feel-good movies, Pokemon, and the irrational desire to be a super hero? Good intentions, but not well thought out. The baby was definitely safer in the hands of nature than in my sweaty worm-like ones.
If there’s anything to be learned from this post, it is this: baby birds are not as helpless as you think and Pidgeot will never exist in this reality. The End.
Final note: with this post I wish you the best of luck in all areas of life, Chastàin. May your creepy wings take you to heights unsoared and your gangling legs walk you to the nearest worm-buffet. And also I hope you get trapped in a tub of soggy dog kibble because you are a freakishly annoying creature and you deserve it. But only for a little bit.