Saturday, November 03, 2007

Bird Nut?

I was just sitting here loafing at the computer, when thoughts of my school daze drifted through my mind. I have always had a fascination/respect for birds, I guess.

I remember a time back in Iowa when I found an injured bird. I think I was in elementary school - not sure which grade. I lived in the Cedar Falls area at the time. Anyhow, this bird had an injured wing and couldn't fly. I took him in and kept him from further harm until he showed me his wing was strong enough and well enough to fly. I fed him whatever I could find - bread, bugs, etc. Turns out he preferred the bugs, being a Northern Flicker.

My efforts were not in vain, as he was soon strong enough to fly. I let him go, with the satisfaction that I may well have saved him from the neighborhood cats.


Another time, on a summer work crew during my High School days, I came across a couple of orphaned pigeon squabs that needed a parent figure. I took them home as well, and cared for them. One did not make it long because it was too weak from the start. The other did, and became a close-knit part of my life. After all, I became his foster daddy.

I kept him in my bedroom, pretty much unrestrained other than at night and when I couldn't be there, I'd keep him in a large cardboard box. I couldn't feed him with the same stuff his momma could, nor could I do it in the same manner, so I used plain old white bread soaked in water. I'd roll it in little balls and pop it in his little beak. When I thought a little extra water was in order, I took a small eye dropper and gave him a drop at a time. I would "coo" at him as I fed and watered him. Damned if I know what I said, but he didn't seem to take offense to it.

As time went on, he lost his down, grew feathers, and got to being a right handsome young man. The more his feathers developed, I developed a little problem. His diet changed. I began feeding him berries - raspberries, mulberries, etc. His favorite were the mulberries, but Mom didn't like them. They have to come out, you know - and with him having free reign of my room, it made kind of a mess. I got over that obstacle after a while, and it got to where I would take him outside a lot more with me - to eat berries and relieve himself.

When flight training came up, I'd at first tether his leg on a string so he wouldn't get away before it was time for him to be on his own. He did well. I would take him to the mulberry bush so he could freely dine. After eating, he would stretch his wings, practice take-offs and landings, do his business, etc., all the while being tethered.

One day I got the notion to remove the string from his leg while we were out. It's gotta happen some day. I don't know why I picked that day/time. He took flight on his own, flew around the house a few times, and returned. That was the end of his leash. I let him have his freedom. Like a little puppy, he kept coming back. He would fly around, do his pigeon thing, and return to my shoulder. If I would want to go in before he, I would let out a couple of "coos" and he would return like a dog being called. He would ride on my shoulder when going into town or just walking around town. I got some real interesting looks. :) He would casually fly around when he wanted to, and return to his place on my shoulder.

One day, he took off on his own. He had his own life, with his own kind. I don't know if he ever came around again. After a certain age, most pigeons all look the same. Regardless, I felt a sense of accomplishment. At that time in my life, that's something I needed. I needed him as much as he needed me.

This is what he looked like when I found him:

This is what he looked like as an adult:
(Note: None of the above pictures are of the actual birds.)