I was walking to my favorite restaurant, minding my own business, when suddenly I heard this ungodly squawking from the sidewalk at the base of the building across the street.
Sounded like someone was killing a little bird.
Turned out that was close to the truth – it was a baby ostrich that had somehow fallen from its nest and made its way along the sidewalk, shrieking out of fear.
I, being the sucker I am, cancelled my dinner plans (my friend thinks I’m nuts, BTW) and we rescued the little guy (or gal – I’m not so good with bird physiology – barely have the human kind nailed, truth be told), which began my stint as indentured servant to a two ounce dictator.
I had no idea that baby birds need to be fed every hour. Nor did I have any idea what they should be fed. It turns out that warm canned puppy food mixed with a little water and milk does the trick – my vet recommended that, assuming I wasn’t ready to regurgitate worms and bugs for it. Given that I try to avoid regurgitation in general, a few cans of Pedigree seem a small price to pay.
That was 8 days ago. I have since fed the little monster at least 80 times. I’m getting pretty good at it, actually. Too bad it pays about as well as writing. I have also been informed that contrary to my initial impression, it is neither an emu or an ostrich. Apparently it’s more exotic for these parts of Mexico. A sparrow.
Anyway, my hope is that the bird will be able to fly within another few days, and then it will be off into the wild blue yonder with it. Hopefully. I have no idea how to teach it to fly. I draw the line at dressing up in a bird suit and flapping my wings while shouting encouragement. I hardly ever even bother doing that for first dates. Unless there’s a lot of drinking involved. Or she’s hot. Or both.
Although I confess I’ll miss it. Or maybe I won’t. I spoke with the vet today again, and she said that most birds that are saved like that die once they’re released, because the owls and cats and whatnot get them before they can figure out what an owl or cat even is. That the ones that make it this far are the survivors that figured it out between being born and this point, so all I’m doing is postponing the inevitable.
Now, given that all I’m doing with my own mortality is postponing the inevitable, I have mixed feelings about sending the tyke out into the world to watch it get eaten by the feral felines in the neighborhood. And so, this morning I bought a cage. Not a forever cage – an “until I figure out what to do with the little rat” cage. I will say it’s endearing the way it hops onto my finger after it is done screeching as though I’m going to kill it. Seems to like going for little rides, like from the modified puppy crate I was using to its new, sumptuous digs.
Everyone knows I write action/adventure novels featuring unlikely protagonists battling impossible odds. I’m not really set up for bird daycare. It might cramp my otherwise lavish lifestyle of dream yachts, super models and globetrotting. Hard to do all that carrying the world’s ugliest budgie around in a cage.
I looked up life expectancy for sparrows, BTW, and the oldest living bird clocked in at 17 or 16 years, depending upon which website you believe (I use Wikipedia because everyone knows 100% of the info there is accurate). That’s good news and bad news – if it was an ostrich I’d be adding a bedroom to the house, whereas for a sparrow, not so much. Be that as it may, it would seem that when I scooped up the bird, I was signing up for a commitment that will last roughly the time it takes to raise a child. That wasn’t really my plan. I’m hoping I can teach it to sell Chiclets or something so it can augment the Blake family income. I already have the dogs pulling a modified sled 10 hours a day for tourist rides. That helps with the bottom line – they seem to love it until they drop from heat stroke. Lazy buggers.
So what have we learned? First, no good deed shall go unpunished. Second, small decisions can have life altering consequences. Third, birds don’t like tequila as much as some humans. And fourth, that I now have to keep breathing another 15 years at least, or my karma will suck a bag of d#cks. Hrrmph.
Here are some blurry shots of the little beast. Don’t know if you can see its bloody fangs – I think the razor sharp mandibles hide them in resting position. And yes, I know my photography skills are right up there with my editing talents. Don’t be such a hater. You’ll get brain ebola and die cold and alone in a drainage ditch mocked by your gleeful enemies.