Every day an army of grackle mommas that live in the tree out front kept a close eye out for any threatening movement from the cats and me. These are serious mamasotas. They are not to be crossed. Their presence makes clear why Hitchcock’s The Birds is such a scary movie. As I hung up the laundry last Saturday, I found myself cringing under their screechy scrutiny; there were ten or so worrying the top of the high wall around the laundry space. Even though I didn’t see the fledgling at first, I knew he had to be there somewhere; the mommas army doesn’t deign to notice me unless there’s a baby hiding out.
Sunday morning when I went out to collect the laundry, the main momma — the one with goodies in her beak — sent all the others to harangue me while she looked for the little one. Grackle mommas, aside from being vocal, are quick and wicked looking. I crept back inside, figuring the laundry could wait while the little one got fed. Monday and Tuesday I dashed in and out of the house warily, bearing glares and warning squawks with a mix of patience and trepidation. I’ve read that crows and grackles recognize human faces and have been known to attack offensive people. I didn’t want to accidentally do anything to offend.
By Wednesday he had perched his ugly Skeksis-self atop the bougambilia bush. I was impressed and hopeful that he’d been able to fly high enough to get to that point four feet off the ground. Not wanting to scare him, I neglected watering the plants. I explained the situation to the airplane plant, the ivy, the rosemary and thyme – begging fotbearance — and then stealthily refilled the water bowl I’d left out for the stranded fledgling. The next morning he was nowhere in sight, and Momma only fussed briefly as I left for work. When I came home yesterday afternoon he had not come out of hiding, but I’d seen him fly quite high, so I decided that he had finally gotten strong enough to fly himself away. My hope was heightened to a kind of glee when my neighbor told me this morning that yesterday he had seen the bird fly from the carport all the way up to the top of the seven(ish)-foot high perimeter gate.
Today, Friday, he lay there in the fiery afternoon sun, fat, molting, and covered in soapsuds. His little body had tipped over in a puddle, his beak pointing south, open a crack, still in wait for the day’s feeding, his feet like broken twigs flopped uselessly. The dead fledgling simmered in a soapy soup on the concrete between the hot water heater and the washer. I hadn’t liked him hanging out in my carport all week, and even less did I appreciate his mom’s scolding each time I went in or out with trash, to water plants, wash clothes, hang clothes. I guess I should be glad he’s gone, but I’m curiously sad.
He came so close to flying free against the high, endless blue, croaking his misanthropic “song.” Early on, I could have shoo-ed him out the big carport door onto the sparse grass below his home tree. I could have tried to put him in a cage and feed and water him there. But I decided to let him use my whole carport to try to find his own way. I guess that’s why I’m sad. Of all the options available to me as a witness to his strife, I did the best thing I knew to do: not interfere, keep an eye out (momma grackle, me), make resources available that he couldn’t have gotten on his own, and wait for him to take wing. Maybe next year. ~LD
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A few process details: After a draft workshop on Tuesday with the sophomores (oh, how I love the sophomores) I almost didn’t finish this. The earlier incarnation had great description, but was purposeless — the fledgling was still living at that point. But today, after finding the fledgling dead during housecleaning, the REASON came into being. I remembered being one of Momma and Daddy’s “arrows” set free to fly into an unknown distant future. No other note is needed here, I think.
Glad you dropped by. Leave a comment if you are so inclined. ‘-) No matter what, have a great weekend. Summer cometh. ~LD