Thursday, May 12, 2005

Yanking the Food Chain

George, my nine-month old kitten, caught a sparrow this afternoon. She galloped, with her chirping quarry fluttering between her needle-tined jaws, from the mulch pile to the other side of the toolshed. Overhead, following George like a police chopper, was the bird's friend, or mother or father, or maybe a lover or life-partner. "She's doing what's natural. This is perfectly normal in the cycle of life. It'll be over in a few minutes," I told myself, trying not to register the alarm and grief sounding from the gathering sparrow family as they watched helplessly from a cluster of branches.

"Nature. Nature is good. Symbiosis is at work, somehow. Just let George follow her instincts. Even if cat's aren't really a natural part of the ecosytem, and she just took a bird from the mouth of a predator that doesn't get Chicken flavored Temptations just for remembering which house she lives in. Don't interfere. No matter what, just let her..." I had to get up and see how things were progressing, knowing that if the bird was still alive, I'd take it away from George.

And that's what happened.

Certain that the little guy would expire right there in my hands in a matter of minutes, I spoke softly, stroking his head. His wings stopped fluttering, his legs stopped moving. Any minute, I expected the rise and fall of his chest to just fall, and stay there. But he kept breathing, and every once in a while, over the course of an hour, he'd open his eyes and shift his broken body.
I stopped cooing to him, and listened to the chorus of bird chatter in the trees around my yard.
"I think they're talking about you. How about that, you're famous!" He wasn't giving up, and maybe the abundant birdsong was cheering him back to life.

I placed him in a big maple leaf in the sun, and left for dinner and errands. I came back, and he had turned himself around to face the setting sun, eyes open, and working his wings a bit. I sat with him for a bit, offering a drop of water from my fingertip. George was back outside, so I picked up the bird and cuddled him, maple leaf and all, close to my body, until I could think of a place to put him.

I looked for an abandoned bird nest that I had placed in a sapling pine a couple of months ago. Not there. I'd have to make him a new one. I wrapped some long, dried grass and weed stems into a kind of wreath, then fastened some maple leaves into the wreath--wrapping stems around and letting the broad foliage cradle at the bottom. I tucked it into the sapling, and placed the little fella in there.

That's where I left him. I hope he'll fly away on his own.



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