Fledgling, a tragedy

I was at my desk late this afternoon working when I heard the cat door thunk, followed by loud, distressed squeaks. I ran downstairs to find Beryl skulking back outside with a bird in her mouth.

It looked limp and lifeless. I tried to encourage her to drop it but she kept running away. When she eventually did let it go, it was only to toss it around like a toy.

The bird wasn’t playing, but it wasn’t lifeless. It breathed shallow and fast. When I picked it up, it clung to my finger and I recognised it as a chickadee fledgling. Its feathers were askew and I was certain it wasn’t long for this world, so I sang it a song as I set it gently on a mossy branch in the old orange tree behind the house.

It sat and panted as I sang quietly to it. Then it perked up and tried to fly, unsuccessfully. Maybe it had some life in it after all. I decided to try to find its nest.

I carried it around in my hand, walking the perimeter of the property, passing all the biomes and watching for its reaction to birdsong and location. Then I saw Beryl intently staring at a tree. Aha. That must be where the nest was. My suspicions were confirmed when its mama turned up. It became more alert when she sang from the wires over the driveway.

I found a branch for it, which it eventually fell from while trying to fly again. I found it a better place and sat outside keeping the cats distracted for about two hours. Its mother flitted around in higher branches, got close but never adjacent, chittered loud encouragements.

As the sun set, it chirped back at its mama when she came around – baby fitting little double notes into the pauses in her song. Oh, hope! But those little peeps alerted Beryl to its presence. My feeble distractions of cat treats were not nearly as enticing as the hunt.

I had one last moment of hope, because it had fluttered from the tree into the long brushy undergrowth, but Beryl eventually found him.

So sorry, little bird. I extended your life by a couple of hours and they were probably uncomfortable, scary, and weird. Maybe I should have let Beryl eat you earlier.

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.