Several weeks ago I was in a concrete jungle doing what I do, when I came across trouble that left me feeling blue.
A flight of steps down in a dark corner of a dank building I saw a baby bird.
It was not particularly cute or precious. Actually, he was an ugly little dude. Knowing mom and dad could not be far away, I chased him up the steps and left him alone as most birds do not thrive being underground.
I was at the site all day, so intermittently, I scoped about for the parents. Eventually, the baby bird disappeared and I went about my business, assuming the parents found him.
Later in the day, I went to the basement of the building and when I exited, there was the baby bird, looking pretty rough. He was leaning on the wall with his mouth partly open, which is not a good look for a baby bird.
I wondered why he had returned to this dark corner of the world and I left him there. He was feathered after all.
Night fell and I returned to the stairway,as my curiosity welled. There he sat, all alone. I just knew there would be a dead baby bird there in the morning if I did not do something, so I put him in a cardboard box and took him home.
We named him Horace. Horace did not come with an instruction manual so I Google searched a little and found him to be a starling.
I made a few mistakes like putting water in an irrigation syringe and squirting it in his mouth. He perked right up after being hydrated, but this can put fluid in the lungs.
I also over handled the bird putting it at high risk for printing, that is, making the starling think he is a person or have a false belief that humans are safe.
Don’t do this.
Horace was eager to eat worms, moths, watermelon, applesauce, and chicken based, high protein dog food soaked and blended into a paste. I fed him with the tip of a spoon which is harder than it looks.
I eventually got a knack for it.
A notable thing about young birds is they need to be fed every 45 minutes to an hour during daylight hours. This is quite a commitment. Fortunately, I had plenty of help.
I returned to the concrete jungle many times looking for Horaces’ parents, but to no avail. What made the little bird return to the darkest recesses of the stairs I wondered.
Death. Death brought him. Further examination of the stairway revealed the remains of an adult starling. A wing, feet and little else. Perhaps this was his mother or father and he returned to what he knew, waiting for a morsel to eat.
I put Horace in a cage outside. Starlings visited more than once to free their own. I knew it would be a matter of time before I would let him journey to the vastness of the sky.
I reminisced of a story I wrote about a thunderbird named Keezeekoni. There is value and deep meaning to it in my little world.
Horace chose his own departure a couple of days ago. Around 0500 hours, he began shrieking and ate more food than I had ever fed him. He ate three solid meals over the course of 2.5 hours.
I applauded my young charge for his eagerness to eat and played some epic music for him on my phone. Well, kinda hokey, but bird epic.
On his fourth feeding, he opened his mouth and suddenly flew off. I did not attempt to catch him. His first flight took him high into the air. I said goodbye and let my family know that the time had come. Like Ahusaka in my story, I was sad, but I knew it was right. Horace was gone for good.
Or was he?
(I added the epic music I played before he flew off)
It seems Horace is connecting well with the local starlings as he sits with them. I have seen him about a dozen times since he left. I wish him well.