In Part One (here) I shared my discovery of a fledgling out of its nest and my decision to take it in overnight. I ended with the line: “I closed up the box and set it in the mudroom, crossing my fingers that I was doing the right thing and that the bird would make it until morning.”
Part Two: the story continues…
In the middle of the night I woke. How’s the bird? That box is really small. Maybe it’s too small. But I didn’t have another box. Oh…wait…I could have used the cardboard cat box we got from the shelter.
I thought about this for a few minutes. Should I go downstairs and move the bird to that box or would that be more stressful?
But…wait! Can birds smell? And shouldn’t I know that? If I put the bird in a cat carrier, would I be surrounding the bird with dense cat scent? A feline miasma? Ugh…that doesn’t seem like a good idea.
I tossed and turned. At around 5 am I crept downstairs. After pushing start on the coffee machine, I walked into the mudroom. The box sat on the counter. What would I find inside? Please let it be alive! Please let it be alive! I took a deep breath and carefully started opening the box, trying to move the cardboard flaps without too much jostling. Immediately, the box shook and the happy sound of flapping wings hitting cardboard filled my ears.
Oh, thank goodness! It’s alive! And active!
The beating wing sounds subsided and I peeked into the box. There was the bird, dry now, and definitely looking like a fledgling woodpecker…maybe a red-bellied?
“Hey, little guy,” I whispered, “How ya doin?”
It sat in the box, unmoving now. Its beak was open, but it was silent. Why is its beak open like that? Is it thirsty? How long can it go without food and water? After a moment, I carefully closed the box up again, not wanting to stress the bird with my presence.
The clock dragged until 8 am when Avian Haven opened. Exerting extreme will power, I resisted peeking into the box again. At 8:01 I called AH and much to my dismay, no one answered. I listened through the long answering machine recording and left a message explaining the situation. Then I waited for a response. And waited. And waited. It felt like an eternity.
At 8:40, I still hadn’t heard back. I was increasingly concerned that the bird must be thirsty and hungry. I had checked again, and its beak was still open. That just didn’t seem right. And the darned box was small. Really small. The bird was clearly in better condition than it had been last night, but it had already been in the box for over 12 hours.
That’s when I started arguing with myself.
Me #1: Maybe I should let it go… It’s definitely improved. It can flap its wings …
Me #2: Just be patient and wait for the call.
Me #1: But it’s taking so long!
Me #2: You should have left a message last night. They’re probably working through the backlog of calls. They’ll call soon.
Me #1: It’s been 45 minutes! Maybe I can just try to release it…see what happens when I open the box…
Me #2: For goodness sake, just wait until they call back!
Me #1: But…it might just fly off! Wouldn’t that be great?
Back and forth. Back and forth. The phone remained silent.
What should I do?
to be continued…