Just a Sparrow
Two e-mails sent to Tintota
What should I do?
Tonight, as I was walking home, I saw a nice cat in the street, so I bent down to say hello. He wasn’t really interested in talking, and he sort of took a step away. I said, “Okay, nice to meet you. See you…” And, as I was about to carry on, I noticed he was intently focused in the ground. So I looked and noticed there was a small bird he had captured, or that had fallen to the ground and he had found. I was going to leave it to mother nature, but as I tried to walk away, well…I just couldn’t. After all, this isn’t really the jungle, now, is it?
So I stepped back, gently lowered my cotton sack in between the cat and the bird, reached down, scooped the bird carefully into my palm and carried him home cupped in my hand. I put my sweatpants into an unused aquarium I have at home, and lowered him into it. He flapped a bit so I covered the entire tank with a piece of black cotton broadcloth – it’s very lightweight – so he wouldn’t go bouncing into the glass. I placed a shallow dish of water in too, put it in the bathroom, away from the cats, and turned out the light for the night.
He is fully feathered, but his tail feathers are still pretty short. He seems okay, but I have no idea, really. I suppose I could wake up in the morning and find him lifeless. But maybe not…
Thing is, if he survives the night, I don’t know how to care for him. What do I do?
I suppose I could just as easily turn him over to the Humane Society, but maybe they’d just euthanase him, you know, ‘just’ a sparrow, after all. I saw The Birdman of Alcatraz a long time ago, but I don’t remember… Don’t I need an eyedropper or something? I don’t have a VCR either. Besides, this is real life. And he’s a very nice bird.
Meanwhile, I have to go to sleep now, and see what the morning brings.
(2) FOLLOWING MORNING
Well, this morning, around quarter to six, the cats woke me up. After I fed them, I checked on the sparrow in the aquarium in the bathroom. He survived the night but hadn’t moved from the corner and probably didn’t touch the water. I stroked his head and replaced the cloth cover. I came back a few minutes later to check him again and he was more alert.
I decided to take the tank downstairs and outside to an untended lot beside the building. Considering my location, it’s a pretty good-sized spot filled with a bunch of tangled trees, wild flowers, tall grasses, all kinds of bushes and lots of undergrowth. It’s rarely visited by people, never manicured and is enclosed by a chain-link fence.
I removed the cover from the tank and he flapped around a bit. I picked him up and opened my hand. He sat there for a few seconds, looking at me, and all that space. Then, LIFTOFF! Airborne, he struggled with all his might, flew a couple of metres in a gentle arc toward the woods and made a soft landing in the undergrowth.
He’s not fully grown, and must just recently have gotten the heave from the nest. Judging by his reaction and subsequent flight maneuver, he’s got the right idea, although remaining aloft is clearly a problem. I understand that. Obviously, he wasn’t injured. He just needs practice.
I am hoping that the wooded lot will give him the sanctuary he needs to get off to another start. If he can feed himself, he should be okay, and since he seems to know how to fly, I guess he knows how to eat. I couldn’t help feeling like I was offering him little more than benign neglect but I thought he seemed intelligent enough and maybe he would meet with, and observe, others who will encourage him and show him better than I can how to get off the ground.
I wanted to be more of a help to him but didn’t know what else I could possibly do. Anyhow, I think he is more likely to survive in those surroundings than in my apartment in a fishtank. Did I do the right thing?
I never expected a sparrow would become my guide and spiritual master.