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Monday, May 25, 2009

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The Rescue

In Which I Find a Baby Bird

Around 8:30 tonight, I was lying on my bed reading “Watership Down” (which, if you haven’t read, I would highly recommend), when I heard a loud “chirp, chirp” outside my window. A moment later, a heard a sounds of a small scuffle, several high pitched bird calls, and then a repeated, mournful “cheep? cheep? cheep?”. There was unmistakably a bird outside that was injured or distressed.

I told my parents what I had heard, and that I was going to investigate, so I got a flashlight, and went outside to the bushes outside my room. A female bird of some kind (I couldn’t tell from where I was) was sitting out there, and she was the one making the noise. When she heard me approaching, she began to move slowly and deliberately away from me. At first I thought she was hurt, but as I watched her hop on the ground, and fly up to a nearby tree, I could see that she was fine. I wondered why she was moving so slowly, and then realized that she must be trying to lead me away from her nest. I stopped moving, and just followed her with my eyes. The whole time she kept up her crying “cheep? cheep? cheep?”

I followed her with the flashlight and she flew across the street, and there, by the curb, I saw a baby bird. He must have fallen out of the nest (I didn’t know he was male at the time, but I found out later when I saw the markings on his wings). My Mom came out to check on me, and told her to get Dad and my brother’s friend’s girlfriend M. who was over. I thought they would like to see the bird.

I wasn’t planning to try to save the baby bird. The mother was near it, and I believe in letting nature take it’s course. But then a car drove by, scaring the mother bird off. She must have flown back to nest, because she stopped her “cheep? cheep? cheep?” call, which meant she had given up on the baby bird. I said I believe in letting nature run it’s course, and that’s true, but when humans interfere to put an animal in danger, then I feel it’s okay for another human to interfere to get it out of danger. So while M. and I watched over the baby bird, my Dad went to get a box and gloves so I could catch it and put it back on the ground near it’s nest.

For those of you who don’t know, I have a lot of experience rescuing baby birds, and when necessary, taking care of them until I can take them to the Audubon Society, so I’d like to tell you now that the belief that if you handle a baby bird the mother will reject it is a myth.

My Dad couldn’t find a box, but he came back with a wire mesh garbage can, and lined it with leaves. I put on the gloves and went to pick up the baby bird. He was scared, and not moving. The rabbits in “Watership Down” would have described him as “tharn”: the glazed state of fright animals fall into where they are so scared they just freeze and their bodies basically shut down. Not wanting to scare him more, I gently touched his back before scooping my other hand under his legs. But before I could lift him up, he started chirping, and hopped away. He moved very quickly, and hopped all the way back to my yard before I could catch him, which was a good sign. He was strong and healthy, so he had a good chance of surviving.

I finally caught him and gently picked him up, supporting his tiny body from underneath with my hand. I was able to spread out his wing and see by his markings that he was male mockingbird, and he would soon have some of his flight feathers. Not enough for any long distance travel, but in a day or two, he should be able to flutter up to his nest. I took him over near his nest, and let him out; he immediately began chirping, and his mother responded. Once she started to chirp, he moved towards the sound, so my Dad, M., and I went back inside so the mother bird wouldn’t be frightened by us. I’m not sure how he’s doing now, but I don’t hear anymore chirping outside my window, which is a good sign. I hope he makes it, but I got him out of the road, so now it’s up to nature to run it’s course.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Last Days: Sunday

A Dirty Story

It’s my last week before I graduate, classes are over and finals are done. So all that’s left to do is to hang out with my friends and, of course, have adventures.

On Sunday, Joanne, Jessica, and I wanted to go see the new Star Trek movie. Well, to be perfectly honest, Joanne and I wanted to see the new Star Trek movie, Jessica just wanted to see a movie. The movie was, for those who are wondering, very good. And Jessica has said it was enjoyable even for those who haven’t seen Star Trek before. But even a simple thing like going to a movie can become an adventure when the three of us are involved.

The walk out to Jessica’s car required us to walk past the dumpsters that had been set up for all the students who were moving out. The dumpsters were all overflowing, and there were stacks of garbage bags and just plain stuff on the ground nearby. I’m not sure who said what, or who said it first, but we were soon all making innocent observations about all the things being thrown away.

“I can’t believe all the things here. So much is still perfectly fine.”
“I know. It makes me mad that people just throw stuff away.”
“Even if they didn’t have room in their cars to take everything home, they could have taken it to Goodwill.”

I honestly can’t say if anyone ever made an actual suggestion, but the more we discussed all the reusable things that had been thrown out, the more it became clear that we were planning to do something about it. So we got in Jessica’s car, and drove it over to a dumpster, and started…let’s call it salvaging.

We never actually went dumpster diving, since none of us got into the dumpsters, but we went through all the bags on the ground, and everything we could reach on top of the dumpsters.

A list of some of things we found:

2 golf clubs
Several pairs of shoes
Pillows
A futon
A table
A Shelving unit
Multiple of garbage cans
2 reusable grocery bags (whose purpose is entirely defeated by being thrown away)
2 mops
2 perfectly fine umbrellas
Textbooks
Several 3-ring binders
A laundry hamper
Misc. clothes
Dishes and cutlery
…much more.

And that’s not even to mention how much of the “garbage” was actually recyclable.

We rescued what we could, loaded up Jessica’s car, and drove it all to Goodwill.

Tired, hot, and smelly, we return to the dorms, cleaned up, and then rewarded ourselves by returning to our original plan and going to the movie.

Before I finish this blog, however, I’m going to take advantage of my voluntarily captive audience (that would be you, dear reader) and get on my soapbox for a moment. What my friends and I saw on Sunday was the result of a wasteful consumer culture. People bought things they didn’t intend to use for more than a few months, and then threw it away afterwards, without even making it possible for other people to reuse them. There is no excuse. Even if you’re too lazy to drive to a Goodwill or Salvation Army drop-off, you can call their pick-up services. The three ‘R’s are Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, and they go in that order. First, reduce how much waste you create. Second, before you get rid of something, find a way to reuse it. Lastly, recycle. We saw a lot of waste the other day, and the majority of it was easily reusable or recyclable. Instead, it will end up in a landfill. We only have one planet. Let’s take care of it. It really isn’t that hard to do.