Ned is the name of the baby robin that chirped so tweetly to me on a very hot Fourth of July as I walked down Holland Ave with my brother. His back tire had blown out due to overinflation and the fact that the tire was 17 years old, thus ending our bike ride prematurely. However, for Ned it was divine intervention when we rolled our bikes by him, squat in the middle of the hot macadam. I picked him up with the full knowledge of the responsibility that I was accepting in this gesture. I would hand him over to my wife’s capable mother hands and stand back in amazement. Meanwhile, Ned’s mother cheeped at us from the nearby shrubs and trees. She reminded me of the whackos who don’t want you to have medical care. I could imagine her going back to her Fox Channel birdbrains and claiming that I had taken Ned to a death panel, when in fact, Ned was on a death platter in the middle of a suburban street in the middle of a red state’s scarlet belly. “No care is better than the government takeover of healthcare”, so they chirp. Fly to Honduras and get back to me on that belief.
Once home, old knowledge of raising baby birds kicked in almost immediately. Sara gathered up dry grass and made a nest in a laundry basket. Out came an eye dropper for hydration. Raw hamburger was formed into beef worms, and Ned gobbled up the love. He got comfortable quickly and adjusted to being inside our house. Our dog began to grow jealous because he could smell the burger being hand fed to Ned, and he was not getting any. Just like she eats popcorn at night with Johnnie the dog, (post # 13 Doggonitedly) my wife began to do the “two for you and one for you” routine. She was not eating raw hamburger but sharing it with Johnnie in case you were wondering.
Annie the cat came by to inspect the bird. She was thoroughly nonplussed. Just another day in the life of a cat who was rescued in similar circumstances ten years ago. Come to think of it, Johnnie was a foster rescue dog also. Altogether we had three rescued pets in the living room sniffing each other. Technically Ned is not a pet. You are not legally allowed to keep a wild bird as a pet, and we had no intention to do so. We knew that in a week or two he would be hopping around, demanding to be fed like most teenagers, and then fly off. This was not our first robin rodeo afterall. And here it is, the 16th of July and Ned is loose in the garden, scurrying around under pepper plants and green beans, trying to get the hang of finding his own food. My wife has even gone the extra mile and bought worms for Ned to practice finding. She drops the worms near him and urges him to peck them. So far he has not gotten the hang of it. He seems to prefer the moistened cat food and burger worms that we have been feeding him. Oh yeah, and the liquid vitamin D3 my wife had to buy for Ned’s total nutritional needs. I know, we should all be so lucky when we fall out of a tree.
I fell off a tree swing when I was 10 or 11 and broke my wrist. No bird swooped in with food and lodging and vitamins. No, my buddies kept swinging over me and laughing at me as I lay in a dry creek bed moaning. Then they practiced their spitting skills on me, working out the wind’s force as they swung out and then back on spit bombing raids over my broken body. I think their disregard for human suffering motivated me to get up and stumble home. Yeah, it was broken and swollen and throbbed with each heartbeat. I got a cast that kept me from swimming for the rest of the summer. No burger worms or cat food for me. What’s a kid to do?