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Backyard terror

July 13, 2007

I almost killed the baby bird in the robin’s nest this morning. It was fairly traumatic for all involved, and I might have my eyes pecked out the next time I leave the house.

I was taking a picture of Baby (more like ungainly adolescent, now) and I got too close. It’s my own fault. The bird panicked and tried to fly, but only made it to a patch of lawn a few feet away, under the grape vine where she had been hidden.

Mom started SCREAMING at me unrelentingly. She put out the alarm, because suddenly there were at least a dozen other birds – cardinals, wrens, sparrows, and chickadees – from all corners of the yard, that descended on the bush Mom was sitting on. They all joined in on the tirade, chirping and squawking, to make me feel even more terrible than I already did. It was eerie, and I’ve never seen that happen before.

I watched Baby from a distance, and she just sat there for a long time. Eventually she hopped awkwardly and took cover under the peonies. She didn’t look very steady on her feet, and wasn’t flying at all. I was pretty unsure about whether she was old enough to survive on her own yet. Judging from Mom’s racket, I was guessing not. I wasn’t sure what to do, not wanting to make things worse, but really not wanting to just leave her on the ground. I got out my leather gardening gloves and walked over to her slowly, fully expecting an air assault from the tons of birds all still quite vocal in their anger at me. I nervously tried to pick up Baby, but didn’t cup my hands enough and she struggled free. She didn’t make it more than 6 inches further, however, and definitely wasn’t flying, so I decided if I could get close enough to pick her up and she wasn’t flying off, she really needed to be back in her nest. I got a better grip on the second try, forming a gentle cage around her with my fingers. I tucked her back into the nest. She looked at me and opened her mouth to ask for some bugs.

Mom was pretty pissed, to put it mildly. I high tailed it out of the yard and I think I’ll leave them alone now. This picture is from far, far away. Ah, the beauty of the zoom lens. I have learned my lesson.

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