Tag Archive | starlings

Super-short sweet love story

Bernie.JPG

Our friend Lee Weber made Bernie’s little tombstone, which the grandchildren insisted he have.

The good news is Bernie’s leg healed just fine. The bad news, really bad, is that Monday evening, he fell over dead. His little life spanned just over a month, as near as we can tell.

That Monday was the day he’d discovered he could run over to the glass door on the screened-in porch to watch for me and hop frantically up and down when he saw me coming. The day he tried to get in the dog bed with Zuzu, who was fine with it, but I told him was a bad idea. She guarded him, but the size differential was too great for safely sharing a bed.

But the last time I went upstairs to get him, he didn’t great me at the door. Zu, who was with me, was confused. I tried massaging his chest, but it was too late. His short little life broke our hearts, and the grandkids were stricken. We miss him, and I still find myself going to check on him before I stop myself.

We’ll never know what happened to him, but we enjoyed him and indulged him. He was a very loved little birdie. And he came along at a good time to teach the grands about life and death and nature. They recognized on their own how much an almost-featherless bird looks like a dinosaur. They watched him mature and cheered all his milestones along with us. The youngest ones, the 4-year-old boys, are learning that when you’re dead you can’t come back. And, that, no, you can’t dig the dead up to look at them one last time. Wouldn’t be proper or pleasant.

I shrouded little Bernie in a beautiful butterfly-covered paper napkin – he’d practiced flapping his little wings but hadn’t achieved flight, at least not in this life. John dug his grave and said a few words, then we covered him with dirt as the dogs looked on mournfully.

Learning to drink.jpeg

One of Bernie’s milestones was learning to drink, first from this tiny jar lid, then from a bigger, deeper makeshift bird bowl.

Bye-bye, birdie.

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Bernie, Bernie, Bernie

bernie ficus

How quickly things change in life and nature. Wednesday, Bernie the starling achieved two major steps: He sat in our ficus tree on the screened-in porch (with an assist from me) and had quite a big time pulling on leaves. And, more importantly, he picked up two meal worms and ate them, instead of just tossing them around and waiting to be fed. Quite the accomplishments for a wee one.

Then I left to pick up some of our grandkids at school. Jude and I rushed upstairs to see Bernie (Jude named him), and evidently he’d had a misstep while I was gone. Instead of being perched on one of the branches in his box or in a chair or on the floor (he’s been exploring a bit lately), he was in his fancy box with his left leg at a funny angle. We have no idea what he did, but we’re hoping it’s just a sprain/strain – a little research shows that to be very common in starlings who land on hard surfaces.

Sadly, he’s lost the ability to perch (or maybe it just hurts right now), though he can walk and had a great time playing in a puddle in the yard yesterday. But for the time being, this seems to be one of his favorite things:

 

bernie snuggles

Poor baby

From what I’ve read, he can recover, regain his footing, and, we hope, leave the nest. If he wants to live in our yard, that’s just fine. At least we won’t have to worry about cats here. But we want him to go free, and he already prefers the great outdoors of the screened porch upstairs to his safety box in the laundry room, where we put him at night (and kept him yesterday for recuperation, to his dismay).

Whatever happens, we’re giving him our best shot and our love. Even if his life is short, it’s better than being a snack for a feral cat, which is where he was headed.

Please send him your healing thoughts. He’s a good little bird. Now I’ll go back upstairs to check on him and see if he’s hungry again. But mainly, we wait. And as my man Tom Petty says, the waiting is the hardest part.

bernie porch