Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Avian rescue

It's been a while, so I begin with a huge apology to all those crowds of you who have been anxiously refreshing your web browsers waiting for the next installment. What's that? Oh, well an apology to my two readers then.

Anyway, for the delight and edification of these highly dedicated followers, and anyone else who occasionally clicks on the link when they have nothing better to do, I now present the touching! the death-defying! the heart-wrenching! story of a little bird named... oh wait, we never named him. How about Peep? Peep kinda fits. So, a little bird named Peep. Here we go.

Now Peep was a baby barn swallow, and his parents have made previous appearances in this blog. They hadn't had an easy time of it, as their first nest had been destroyed, and they'd had to find mud and grass to build a new one. Into this mud cocoon Peep was born, featherless and tiny. Little did he know that certain humans considered his kind to be dirty and messy - a health hazard, in short, and not in keeping with the image they wished to convey. The order came down from above: Destroy The Nests.

Thus it was that Peep made an unscheduled vertical journey of about 15 feet onto hard concrete. He wasn't nearly big enough to fly yet, but he was the biggest of his brood. His three brothers and sisters all died. Fortunately for Peep, a kind male human left his apartment to go to work before the man with the blower came round to clear away the remains. His exclamation of distress alerted a female, who carefully scooped Peep up and popped him back in the remains of the nest. Safe for now, Peep sat on a ledge in the hope that his parents might come back and find him.


Meanwhile, some extensive internet research and telephoning on the part of the female human revealed that barn swallows are more important than you might think. They are, in fact, protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and nobody ought to be pulling down nests which have chicks in them. Or even eggs, for that matter. Armed with this information, the woman stormed the stronghold of those who perpetrated this foul deed (aka the rental office), only to be met with complete indifference. She called the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The agent was out. She discovered a bird rescue center. It was 40 miles away and she didn't have a car. She drew all kinds of blanks. Peep's fate still hung in the balance. Would his parents work out where he was? Would they be allowed to stay? Was there anywhere else he could go?

The next day, Peep was still there. Still sitting in his nest, in a box, on a ledge. And amazingly, still alive. His parents didn't seem to be anywhere around, and Peep was feeling hungry. A hungry baby bird is all mouth, I can tell you, and Peep was opening his just as wide as he could get it. There wasn't much coming in, though. The nice humans tried a few drops of water off a wet towel, and pretty near soaked him in the process. They weren't prepared to try regurgitating insects, though, so poor Peep didn't get anything to eat. It started to seem as though Peep had been kept alive for nothing. Maybe they should have just let the man with the blower sweep him away.


Finally, after another round of frantic telephoning, they found a lady who took in abandoned birds. They called her. She could take him. Now? Now would be fine.

Peep's fortunes were suddenly looking up again. For a start, he got a ride in a car, which isn't a claim many barn swallows can make. Then he landed on the doorstep of someone who really knew how to look after him. He lost contact with the kind couple who first picked him up, but they hoped he survived. He deserved to.


(The Fish and Wildlife agent did call back a few days later and promised to speak to the apartment management. A happy ending all round.)

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