I think all gardeners feel a certain amount of stewardship for the land and for the animals that inhabit it, especially for those that inhabit our garden. With this in mind, I have a story to tell.
We had a really weird incident about a week ago. I came home from yoga class to find my two cats playing with a bird...in the house. How did it get in the house? I have no clue. I checked all windows and all seemed secure. Maybe it flew in when I opened the door to leave for class...who knows. I don’t really know birds very well, but I think it was a sparrow. It was the kind of bird that nests in the birdhouses that are attached to our shed. I was in a panic trying to find a way to get this bird away from Molly and Izzy, who were torturing it by playing with it. It was clear it couldn’t fly and it was trying to hop away from them. I managed to get them away from it and it went under the bed in the guest room. I shut the door until Brian got home to help me.
Brian managed to get it in a box, but we didn’t know what to do next. We couldn’t put it outside, injured and unable to fly, because we knew one of the many neighborhood cats would eat it. We called a local animal hospital and they suggested getting in touch with a local wildlife center/hospital. It was very late at night and we couldn’t call or take it to the wildlife hospital yet, so we put the little guy in the greenhouse, in the open box, to wait until morning.
We woke up half expecting it to be dead, but there it was hopping around in the box and chirping. Brian said he named him Jasper. I said I named him Tippy. I wasn’t sure why I thought of Tippy, then I realized it is the name of the actress who played the lead in Alfred Hitchcock’s AWESOME movie, “The Birds.” Her name is Tippi Hedren. Ha!!! Funny how the mind works. I ended up driving, way out of my way, to take Tippy/Jasper to the wildlife hospital at Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge. With traffic, it took me about an hour and a half to get there and almost two hours to get home. All for this little sparrow.
I had to fill out a form and tell how I found it and what happened to it. The young girl there examined him quickly and determined that his wings were NOT broken, which was a surprise to me. This guy had been sitting in a box in my greenhouse all night and in my car on the way there without flying. She said he was either a fledgling still learning to fly or he had “cat scratch fever,*” which would slow him down a lot. (Sounds made up, right? I sure hope not.) She said they would give him an antibiotic for cat scratch fever, assuming that’s probably what it was, and that he should be able to fly again and would be ok. How ‘bout that! And here you thought this story would have a sad ending. I made a donation while there, since Cedar Run is non-profit. It was the least I could do for Tippy.
I wonder if your average person would have put the bird outside and let it fend for itself...I just couldn’t do that. Here was a bird that probably was born in one of our birdhouses, who probably ate out of the bird feeder in my garden, probably frolicked in my garden — I had a certain amount of responsibility for it. How it got in the house, I have no idea. I hope it never happens again. But I feel good that we did the right thing and Tippy/Jasper should be able to live a full, happy life. I wonder if he’ll find his way back to my garden.
* If this story has put the song “Cat Scratch Fever” in your head and you want to listen to it, YouTube has you covered.