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.

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Comments

  1. Sat 23rd Jun 2012 at 12:01 pm

    It COULD be a miniature ostrich, Russell. Thanks for the laugh, amigo. great post. 🙂

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 23rd Jun 2012 at 12:06 pm

      A mini-os? Hmmm. Wonder if there’s a market for those? I’m already trying to figure out how to put little antlers on it so I can make some of my bar tab over the holidays with photo ops. He doesn’t seem to like the super glue. F#cker.

      Reply
  2. Sat 23rd Jun 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Sparrows are like gold dust over here, too! Mention sparrow and the ‘twitchers’ have cameras planted around your boundary from dawn until dusk. You could make a killing on tea and sandwiches, another few quid in the coffers or for your bar tab.
    Things are looking up. You may have the last little blighter left on the planet. Film rights? (Now you’re smiling!) Also, Pedigree Chum should be paying you for advertising their dog food.
    You’ve not thought this out properly. You need a PA to make snacks in the morning and deal with money spinners in the afternoon & with pub photos, sit back and smile at your friends who thought you were nuts!

    Reply
  3. Sat 23rd Jun 2012 at 3:27 pm

    No one said being a hero is easy. Good job! You’ve raised your positive karma (along with your obligations).

    Reply
  4. Sat 23rd Jun 2012 at 9:33 pm

    You got off easy, Russell. The last thing I rescued was a baby wild boar. That was two years ago, and he’s now @ 350 lbs. And VERY demanding of food. I tend to give him what he wants.

    My hat is off to you for helping an animal in need.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 24th Jun 2012 at 12:43 am

      Wow. I feel better about the baby turkey buzzard or whatever he is. Sparrow. Whatever. 350, huh? I say shoot for the 500. Why the F not, at this point? My guess is that his cholesterol is fine…

      Reply
  5. Sun 24th Jun 2012 at 10:10 am

    I’ve enjoyed this post so much and think it is wonderful what you’ve done!

    Not so get all biblical on you, but I always think of this whenever I assist the tiniest of critters:

    “…as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 24th Jun 2012 at 11:39 pm

      If god is a bird or a dog, I’m in.

      Reply
  6. Sun 24th Jun 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Wow! What a great thing you’ve done and he/she is sooo cute! You’ve restored my faith in human nature.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 24th Jun 2012 at 11:38 pm

      Given that my life has served as a cautionary tale for most, it is the least I can do. I think it’s a she. And yes, she does have a way about her. I’ll be updating the site with gratuitous sparrow photos from now on. Why not?

      Reply
  7. Vickie McKeehan
    Mon 25th Jun 2012 at 1:05 am

    You know of course that now you’re her mother, baby chick, and all, forever and all time. You gave us a lot of info, except for leaving out one detail, what you intend to name your newest addition. Come on, tell us, we all want to know. Or you could run a contest to name the little tyke. My money’s on Razor, or maybe just Rat.

    But be forewarned, kids and baby chicks rarely appreciate all the effort. But hey, this one could be different. I noticed a resemblance right away. It might be the eyes. 🙂

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 25th Jun 2012 at 10:22 am

      I’m not sure what to name a baby chupacabra. Although Rat does have a certain gender neutral ring.

      Reply
  8. Vickie McKeehan
    Mon 25th Jun 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Now see, the little thing could already act as your muse for the next series of Blake novels, a new genre for you, horror stories from the House of Blake. I see a classic chupacabra story about a new species, an alien like bird landing in Mexico. You write the book, I’ll write the screenplay. We’ll film it on location after we get Ridley Scott to direct.

    Oh. Wait. I do get carried away.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 25th Jun 2012 at 1:57 pm

      I was going to say. Sounds like more of a Ron Howard thing. With heart. Scott’s too epic. Bit cold.

      Reply
  9. Christine King-Raggio
    Thu 28th Jun 2012 at 11:24 am

    Wow! From reading your books I never would’ve thought you were such a softy. 😉 We call my mom the bird lady because every year she saves at least one baby bird. A few have come back to visit her. We know it’s them cause they land on her head!!

    Glad you saved Rat!!!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 28th Jun 2012 at 11:30 am

      Don’t be fooled. I’m just fattening it up for Thanksgiving.

      Reply
  10. Rags Daniels
    Fri 29th Jun 2012 at 10:57 am

    A budding, Robert Franklin Stroud ….Nice story…And as an ornithologist, much appreciated.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 29th Jun 2012 at 11:34 am

      Fortunately, absent the incarceration. So far.

      Reply
  11. Sandra Marsh
    Sat 14th Jul 2012 at 8:21 am

    In my country ,those poor little things are vermin.They have nets across half of Australia to keep them out of the west.They bring more attention than illegal immigrants in a leaky boat……yet to me,they seem quite harmless.Maybe you should check again to see how big they actually get.Visions of Godzilla spring to mind.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 14th Jul 2012 at 10:45 am

      This one is now the size of a small economy car. Could be the food. Bought some on discount that was at a feed store near the nuclear materials dumping site.

      Reply
  12. Sandra Marsh
    Sat 14th Jul 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Ahhh that could well and truely explain the fear factor here.The birds have to fly through an old nuclear testing sight called Maralinga on their flight west.The Godzilla theory is becoming more feasible,which in turn could explain why half of my country is desert…hungry sparrows

    Reply

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