I was always that little girl who would go on long bicycle rides on windy days after a spring storm, when the air was crisp and clear, nourishing to the lungs, making it feel like you could keep riding for days. I would come home, breathless and hunched, tiny fledgling birds tucked into my shirts, always saying, "Mom, we have to take care of it!"
She would grudgingly accept our new family member, and I can proudly say that we successfully raised about a half-dozen babies over the course of my childhood.
Not so much has changed.
The past few days, the worried choruses of birds have drawn me outside, where I have stalked, looking for all the world like a crazy woman--hair like a halo of messy flames, braless beneath a ratty T-shirt, striped socks beneath my clogs reaching half to my knees--seeking the felled baby.
Raising baby birds is a full-time endeavor, and I know that mother birds are far better suited to the task than I. So, in the past week, I have placed multiple fledglings in trees, by a multitude of techniques ranging from tossing to climbing.
I have a cat, you know? A cat whom I adore, who is my right hand fella. But he's a killer.
Today, he caught a house sparrow. House sparrows are invasive, greedy little bastards. But I love them. At first, I convinced myself (upon seeing blood coming out its beak) that I needed to just let him finish off the job. But seeing him toy with it in the periphery of my sight as I gardened began to eat at me. And then the little thing flew a few feet, and I had to intervene.
I pulled Dingo off of her, and held her in my hand, examining her body. She appeared undamaged, and after a minute or so I let her go. She perched in the crook where a tree branch met the trunk, leaning against the bark and looking very tired.
I hope she lives, but wonder if I just prolonged her suffering.
I've also been protecting a little baby blackbird that for whatever reason has decided that my yard is home. We have made the yard a sanctuary for birds this year, finally landscaping and installing feeders at every turn.
Now I feel like I am luring them to their deaths.
I've seen hungry cats hunt, and eat their kill entire in a matter of seconds. This playing with the thing for ever--I just hate it.
How, oh how do I keep my cat from killing birds?
In training news, today I rehearsed the sprint triathlon: 1/4 mile swim, 15 mile bike ride, 3.5 mile run. It took an hour and 45 minutes. And I'm okay with that.
My legs feel like achy jello. But I feel good, like I will actually finish the event. I don't want to win, just to finish, really.