The Animal Communicator
It wasn't an easy decision. The tiny sparrow fledgling was doing what fledglings do: sitting on the ground and chirping loudly.
In the background were two stalking cats. The bird sanctuary has been feeding them out of misguided compassion. I love cats, I've rescued cats. A bird sanctuary is not a place for cats.
I'd spoken to staff about the issue several times. I've also cuddled and talked with the cats. Lovely, confused creatures, dumped by irresponsible people.
Normally, I'd leave a fledgling alone. Once a baby bird has feathers, his/her presence on the ground usually means they glided down, and are strengthening themselves for true flight. The parents will feed them. If you can find the right nest and scoop them back in, that's fine. Birds have no sense of smell, so the parents won't reject them.
Otherwise, leave them alone. If they're on a trafficked road, just get them to safety, into the bushes. Small birds: move gently with your hands. Crow fledglings: shoo them, and try not to swat at the parents dive bombing your head.
In this case, the fledgling likely came from the eaves of the sanctuary's offices. Just over where the cats hang out, by the bird feeders.
I did my "Darwin Dance," deciding what is actually the Natural Order. I finally decided to get this little guy away from the cats, and took him home.
Though he chirped ferociously, he wouldn't eat. Like most babies, especially wild ones, he didn't have many words. He said he "hurt."He "went too far," partly to avoid the cats. He wasn't conscious of "cats" per se, but of dangerous energy.
I had a lengthy phone conversation with Elizabeth's Wildlife Center, and they generously said that due to the cats, they'd take little Jack Sparrow the next day. They also kicked my buttinski for not dealing with the cat issue more assertively.
I held him in my cleavage, which has been the ideal temperature for many tiny creatures. I tried my best tricks at landing tiny bits of cat food in his chirping mouth. He still wouldn't eat. I put him in a box lined with soft fabric shreds, then placed him in a dark, quiet corner.
That night, Jack Sparrow died. His little body was too bruised from his first venture out of the nest.
I've rescued for 46 years, attended countless animal deaths. But the sight of that tiny, fluffy body turning from bright energy to stillness, undid me. When death comes, I can see the deflation of the body as the soul leaves. It's as much an energetic perception as a physical one.
I spent the night deeply sad, and croaked an early Sunday a.m. message into Elizabeth's voicemail, "The little sparrow didn't make it."
I drove Jack to my best wilderness power spot and buried him with my bare hands, under the poplars. I sat on the mossy ground and wept.
Then, I wrote letters to the two local papers, as well as two funding bodies for the bird sanctuary. My words won't bring back the little fledgling, but I hope they will save many birds' lives. As well as procure good homes for these two lovely cats. I'm still sad that I didn't feel I had a choice; if Jack was going to die anyway, I wish it had been in the company of his family.
Please, keep your cats indoors. The pros well outweigh the cons. In the sidebar, I've suggested alternatives to letting them run free. Here is my published letter.Cats: Seven Ways to Keep Them Happy Indoors
Why keep cats indoors? Outdoor cats kill wildlife, and are themselves prey for coyotes, dogs and crazies. They get poisoned, lost and hit by cars. They acquire toxic parasite loads and diseases. In climates without a hard frost (like the West Coast), they'll repeatedly infest your home with fleas.
Cats do need their natural instincts honoured. Four ways to do this:
1. Harness and leash train your kitty. Exploring the world through your cat's senses is enjoyable, and deepens your bond.
2. It's easy to build a wire pen in your yard, or buy a pre-fab Catio. Add climbing shelves from where kitty can view birds and squirrels, and everyone's safe and happy.
3. Play vigorous "hunt and chase" games with your cat, using toys.
4. Make at least part of your cat's diet raw. This includes organ meats and "safe" bones. Muscle meats alone do not contain sufficient nutrients.
5. Grow cat grass.
6. Neuter your cat to curb much of the roaming instinct.
7. Plug in bird DVDs. Your cat will watch for hours, and even bat at the screen. Fun to watch!
To read more about Reisa or join her informative newsletter Talking With Animals visit her site: Reisa Mary Stone
This article was also reprinted in Langley Today Newspaper, the animal lovers choice in British Columbia: Seven Ways to Keep Them Happy Indoors