We saved a life on Friday.
The day started like any other. I was awake, sitting up in bed and watching our cats watch the world while I waited for the Hip Hubby’s alarm clock to go off. We’ve thoughtfully provided numerous vantage points from which our cats can enjoy “kitty home theater” (more commonly known as the critters that pass through our yard) through large windows that are only closed when a tropical storm crosses our path.
Most mornings, the cats who are awake spread out -- some take in the view from a giant climbing tower that sits in the bedroom’s screened-in porch, others from the furniture the bedroom’s sitting “nook.” This morning, however, five of our ten indoor cats were jockeying for a position on the arm or back of the white wicker chair that became known as the kitty throne when our alpha cats took to curling up in it and holding court over their subjects.
Now there’s any number of reasons this happens, the most common being that one of the gazillion cute little ground lizards that call our yard home has decided to sun himself on one of the window louvers. But the presence of a lizard was quickly ruled out when I noticed that none of the cats was making an effort to claw at the window screen. Since I knew I’d never be able to get close enough to the window in my wheelchair to see what had entranced them, I listened intently for signs of life other than the scores of tree frogs, crickets, and grasshoppers that happily chirp away in the bushes and flowers that grow outside of that window.
After a few moments, I heard it -- a tiny “tweet” broke through the usual morning chorus. The cats heard it too, and a frenzy of activity broke out as they climbed over each other, each trying to claim the vantage point most likely to provide an unobstructed view of the creature lurking just beyond their reach.
Soon there was another tweet, this one a little stronger and close still to the house. By this time, I’d managed to rouse the Hip Hubby enough to be conversational (no small task, that), although he was in no condition yet to grasp anything more complex than short sentences. Once I was certain that his eyes were able to focus, I waited for the next chirp to ring out, then pointed toward the window where five cats were anxiously pacing, eyes wide, ears pricked, and tails twitching with excitement.
“There’s something driving the cats crazy. No, it’s not a lizard or one of our neighbor’s chickens. Sounds like a bird -- please go look and see if you can figure out what it is.”
He stumbled out of bed and over to the window, doing his best not to trip over the cats that were now alternating between circling in and out of his legs and jumping back up on the wicker chair, eyes glued in the direction from which the intermittent tweeting originated.
“It’s a gorgeous little bird!” said the HH with a big grin. And right on cue, another “Tweet!” rang out as if to say, “Yes! That’s me! I’m found!” The feathered little critter was hunkered down in the foliage just outside of our window, his brightly colored head just barely visible. We were pretty certain that the little guy hadn’t been born in the wild.
Given how small the little fella was, we knew we were his only chance to make it . After all, Mama and Comet, the feral cats we inherited when we bought our house (and parents of five kittens we adopted and domesticated), are both excellent hunters and would quickly discover such easy prey. Although he was skeptical that he’d be able to get too close to the little bird, I convinced my Hubby to take one of our cat carriers and see if he could somehow entice the bird inside so we could take it to our local shelter.
To our great relief and delight, it took the HH less than two minutes to secure our new feathered friend inside the carrier. The tiny critter was clearly hand reared -- he was totally fearless and, after being gently nudged, climbed right on to the twig my husband offered to him as a perch. Once inside the carrier, he seemed to breathe a sight of relief, as if to say, “Thank goodness!” Guessing that he wasn’t able to adequately feed himself during his outdoor adventures, we placed a small container of clean water and some whole grain bread crumbs into the carrier. Our little bird’s relief became obvious gratitude as he dove in and ate with exuberance.
After a quick call to the shelter to make sure they could properly care for him, our tiny little visitor was loaded into the car and on his way to a safe, hew home while I proffered Pounce treats to each of our kitties who made this rescue possible.
After arriving at the shelter, things fell into place so perfectly it was as though it had been pre-planned. My hubby was me by a warm, friendly woman named Liz, the bird lover with whom he had spoken to earlier. She eagerly took the carrier and after a quick peek inside, lead the Hip Hubby into a small exam room. As they walked, Liz told the HH that this was a little Love Bird, probably not more than two months old.
As soon as the exam room door closed, Liz opened the carrier and reached inside. The little bird must have sensed that she was bird-friendly -- as soon as Liz’s hand closed gently around his small body he let out a contented chirp, then closed his eyes, sighed, and nuzzled his head against her fingers. Liz, in turn, whistled and chirped back at him, putting the baby bird totally at ease while she look him over.
After her brief exam of the bird she had already named Lupe, Liz told my husband that from the tattered condition of the bird’s feathers, she believed he’d had a rough go of it recently. We’d had abnormally strong winds blowing almost constantly for the last few days, compliments of a subtropical storm named Olga that had formed about 200 miles to our northeast, near Puerto Rico. According to Liz, who was still cradling Lupe in her hand, the poor little thing had most likely been blown all around the island, finally landing in the shelter of our yard. She was convinced we had saved his life.
It was clear there was a mutual attachment growing between Liz and Lupe. As a shelter worker, Liz was required to put the bird up for adoption. But after telling my husband all about her other birds as she stroked the soft feathers on top of Lupe’s head, she confided in my husband that if no one had come to adopt Lupe by the end of the day, Liz was going claim him as her own. That was just fine with us, and seemed to be more than okay with Lupe.
And that’s exactly what happened. When the shelter closed, tiny little Love Bird Lupe was settling in with his new Mama Liz and meeting his new birdy friends, and we were feeling pretty darn good about saving the life of another animal.