Cardinal 2

No Animal Too Small To Save

The other day I was sitting in my backyard. There are no oak trees anymore to provide shade, they’ve all been cut down because of insect infestation and super storm Sandy, both disastrous byproducts of global warming. I now sit under umbrellas to keep the scorching, unrelenting sun so I don’t get another sarcoma.

The weather finally started to cool, so I decided to take my mountain bike out and ride the flat streets of Long Island. There’s just something about the feel of a mountain bike after living in California and traversing Mt. Tamalpias in Marin County for a score of years that makes me feel right.  As I enter the garage I looked down and I see something that looks like a very large leaf, but then I realized it wasn’t a leaf at all, it was actually a bird and the poor little guy or gal had gotten its head or neck trapped in a mouse trap.

When I realized it was a cardinal I immediately sprung the trap and this poor little bird kind of jumped to life and just stood silently, stoically not moving. I’m not sure if the trap was on his head or his neck or how long he or she had been there.  I didn’t know what to do.  I figured something would have to be done in order to save this bird. I took a glass of water and I poured it all around him or her thinking maybe he or she would take a drink. No movement whatsoever,  just a stoic red cardinal standing in front of me.  I took another glass of water and I poured it on the cardinal and she or he actually flapped it’s wings. I’m still not certain what to do.

It’s Sunday about 6 o’clock at night. Even if I called a vet, the ASPCA or any animal organization, who was going to give me any help whatsoever.  I decided to take a ride on my bike and see if the cardinal could regain its equilibrium and strength and fly off and when I got back. I would make a determination whether or not to euthanize the poor little guy or gal because I didn’t want it to suffer.  While on my bike ride, I remembered I had a very good friend who used to be a veterinarian. I stopped my bike and I called him on my mobile and I told him what had transpired and he told me to go back and see if I could find the cardinals nest and put the bird into its nest.

I laughed at the suggestion. How am I possibly going to find a bird’s nest in my backyard. So he suggested, “well why don’t you build the bird a nest.”   I said how would I do that. He said “take some kind of container and tear up some newspaper strips and put some food and water into the nest and let the bird be, you’d be surprised at how resilient animals are.”  I came back and I did as he said. I found a couple of little bottle top containers, one for water, one for food and an old strawberry container that I could use as a nest.

I took a piece of Kashi cereal and crushed it up and put it in one container and some water in the other and then I went to pick the bird up.   He or she tried to flap its wings and get away but I put it in the little strawberry container and there he or she sat.   I placed the nest in a shrub high above ground so no other animal could get at my cardinal.  It began to get dark out. I hoped for the best and expected the worst and thought about the prospect of having to actually take a shovel to the little cardinal and put him or her out of its  misery.

When I got up in the morning. I thought I would have to kill the little bird and bury him or her in our backyard where our cats are buried.  But when I awoke, walked out the door and went to the shrub, the bird, my little red cardinal, had flown away. He or she had the tenacity and ferocity to survive.  I had the biggest smile on my face from what I had just seen, an empty bird’s nest that I had created and a red cardinal I knew was flying around somewhere on Long Island and continuing to be part of our habitat.

During the ensuing week, I kept putting pieces of Kashi cereal into the bird’s nest and every day at the end of the day the food was gone. I don’t know who ate the food but it’s my hope that my little red cardinal had come back to the little home I made for him or her, had daily sustenance and then went on to fly through the skies alive.

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