• Melissa Westemeier

another hungry mouth to feed

Long-time followers and friends know about Mr. D's strange proclivity for acquiring critters. He's responsible for one of our stray cats (Thorn) and his past relationships with stray wild things include a squirrel (remember Willie? Seven years ago Mr. D took in that baby squirrel ... ) and a rabbit. He's like Dr. Doolittle or something, he just hears their call and next thing I know we've got a cardboard box on the back porch and he's nursing something or other back to health. Most of the time the animal approaches Mr. D, and like some sort of wildlife whisperer, he'll get the thing curled up against his chest, ready to nurture it.



Say what you will, the guy's got a big heart for all creatures great and small.

This time he's fostering a baby robin.

I was blithely repainting our clothesline poles and vaguely aware of the angry chirp and chatter of a couple robins nearby. Since I wasn't moving (aside from bending down to dip my brush into the paint can), I ignored them. A while later Mr. D asked if I'd seen the baby robins.

No.

Well, one of them looks to be in trouble.

Just put it under the tree. They figure these things out, I told him. Instinct. Survival of the fittest. Its mama will tend to it.

Cue Mr. D, our caped crusader. Before I could put away my drop cloth and find a mallet to secure the lid on my can of Rustoleum, Mr. D had commandeered a cardboard box and old towel, and began prowling the garden for earthworms. The Googling of baby bird facts began a little while later. Did you know they need to eat every half hour?

Well, they are kind of like our teenage boys. Growing a lot. Eating a lot.

It'll be 4-5 days until it is strong enough to fly. I'm kind a worried about the little guy.

Hm.

We have to keep the cats out of the porch.

Okay.

I read that a robin will eat fourteen feet of earthworms before it leaves the nest.

Oh dear.

The boys peered over the edge of the box. Mr. T decided we should name it Bernie. He looks just like Bernie Sanders.



This robin (might be a girl, not sure) does resemble Bernie Sanders. It's got the wild feathers poking out the side of its head and it seems sort of intense and a bit angry. Also the bird has a one-track mind like Bernie Sanders, but instead of income inequality, Bird Bernie tells us to feed him (we'll call Bernie a boy). All the time.

We dropped into a graduation party and left an hour later because the bird needed to be fed. This became a source of entertainment for the rest of the evening, even Mr. B's posse watched with great interest as the bird got fed. Every half hour. From dawn to dusk (according to Mr. D's Bird Facts).

I suggested it probably wasn't necessary to mime chewing up the worms before dangling them above Bernie's beak.

I was told to help unearth more worms as Bernie's little bird brain imprinted on Mr. D. Now it's Monday and Mr. D is at his office all day. That means Mr. G and I are on bird duty. One of us has to drop a few worms in Bernie's beak every half hour or so. (Birds don't need water to drink, they get all the fluids they require from the worms, according to Mr. D.)

I didn't sign up for this (were it up to me, I'd have nestled the little guy under the tree where we found it and left it to the Circle of Life to work out) and pointed out to Mr. D that since he's the one dragging critters into the house, he should be the one to care for it. Turns out Mr. D is leveraging Mr. G's passionate desire for a moped to convince Mr. G to tend to the robin. We just came in from the vegetable garden a little while ago where Mr. G and I dug up a pound or so of earthworms to get Bernie through the rest of the day. I explained to him that earthworms like cool, damp dirt and are best found beneath piles of leaves and other compostable matter. Sure enough, we hit "pay dirt" near the rhubarb and our bucket got full pretty quickly.

I poked my nose in on Bernie to take this picture and he reared up and stretched out his stubby wings as if to come at me. Maybe he's getting strong enough to leave the nest. They grow up so fast, don't they?

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