And If That Mockingbird Won’t Sing
Our cat has been leaving us far too many presents this spring.
Yesterday my husband was downstairs before me. When I joined him, he told me that he wished he’d had his camera. Two mockingbirds were taunting our cat incessantly. He hadn’t fed the cat yet, so I fed her. Since he plays the organ at church, he left for church before my daughter and me as well.
We were running a bit late, but I thought that we’d make it in time for Sacrament Meeting. When we got in the car though, we saw the mockingbirds pecking at our cat who was just hanging out on the front fence. I decided to get her off the fence, so I went in the house and opened the back door, and she immediately ran to me.
I grabbed some treats to put in her food dish. And that is when I noticed that there were two baby mockingbirds just outside the back door. I’d missed them before, so I don’t know if they were both there or only one of them. Now that would explain the mockingbirds’ behavior. Oh, I was so sad.
I went back to the car and told Christine that we were already too late. I told her that there were two baby mockingbirds outside the back door, and that one of them was still alive. At that point, I knew that we needed to go see how that mockingbird faired and if there was something we could do. If there are hurt animals, Christine will help them.
I put the cat in the bathroom and buried the dead little bird. I got Christine a pair of garden gloves to use in attending to the live bird, but she already had it in her hands when I approached her with them. So I found a pot that had soil in it, laid the gloves on it, making a bed for the wee bird.
Although the bird was scratched in a few places, it is a fighter. It opened its big yellow beak (big in comparison to its small body), searching for free food. We gave it a couple of drops of water. Christine looked in the bramble bush where we thought the nest might be (because the birds seemed to be guarding it), but we couldn’t see anything.
With the cat out of the way, we found a shaded spot next to the bush to put the flower pot, and we left for church. We missed the opening, the sustainings, and even the sacrament; but, at least momentarily, we saved a life. “Is it lawful to save a life on the Sabbath day?”
Upon returning from church, we made it our priority to attend to the baby bird. Still alive. Still wanting food. I tried to grind up some bird seed in water. Not effective. So I also added some whey protein and ground again, and then I strained out the bird seed, just leaving the liquid. The bird took a couple of drops of that.
Bob put the flower pot on one of the pillars to our patio cover, out of the cat’s reach. Christine was still searching for its nest, and not finding it, she was searching for a better location. She didn’t want the bird to survive, only to fall directly into the cat’s mouth as a fledgling.
Before checking on the cat and allowing her back outside, we made a nest out of an Easter basket. Christine had researched what to feed the bird, and I knew it needed protein. She found it should be given egg and cat food. I added an egg to the whey mixture and gave the bird another couple of drops. (It pooped.) We added shredded paper to the basket and weaved yarn into it so that it could be attached to the tree. After adding some grass to the new basket, and positioning it between two branches, we tied it securely with the yarn. Then Christine gently transferred the baby bird to its new nest.
Christine did not want me to check on the bird again, but she continued to search for a nest. An hour or so later, I pulled over the step ladder and checked on the bird. It was still opening wide its mouth and I gave it another drop or two. Mouth closed. I went back inside.
After another hour or so, Christine ran into the house excitedly. She had pinpointed where the nest was in the bramble bush. She had been watching the parent birds and allowed them to lead her to the nest. So then we worked to initiate the transfer. We had to cut the basket out of the tree. By this time the bird wasn’t very active. I think more than anything, it was getting later in the day and the bird was cold. Christine returned her (I keep wanted to write her, and not it, so this time I did) to her nest alongside the two other babies already there. (It had been a typical brood with four babies.)
All evening the mockingbirds still attacked the cat. By bedtime we did not know where she had gone. But the birds were quiet as well, so we had to hope that all were safe for the night.
This morning I was happy not to find any present at the back door. It’s always wonderful to not start out the day with mortification. We worked hard to give that baby a fighting chance. It’s up to the parents and nature now. We really don’t know if it’s maimed and can’t survive or of its parents will reject it. But her wings and legs seemed functional from what we could observe when she was stretching for food.
As soon as I fed the cat this morning, a mockingbird was pecking at her, not allowing her to eat. Hopefully, their revenge won’t bring about their demise; and, hopefully, this little bird family will make it through the season. For now the cat is in the bathroom and would rather be outside.
Lessons in Nature:
Babies come to earth with a desire to live. Parents give and protect life. Predators take life. Parents instinctively defend their families, even at peril to themselves. Parenthood is never about personal convenience.
Sometimes it appears that there is more fierce loyalty in the animal kingdom than among humans. These birds devote their entire lives to nest building, having broods, sustaining life, and protecting their young.
With the very tenderness of the human heart, we can all feel sympathy for the little baby mockingbird. I do not know many who would not hope for the survival of a baby bird and who would not feel saddened to see a bird that had been hurt by the claws of a cat. Yet how many human babies have been aborted? And how many human babies have suffered great atrocities at the hands of their own parents and physician, both of which by very definition should be offering them life and protecting their lives at all costs? And how much greater is a human’s life in the eyes of our Lord?
Let’s allow the babies to have a voice and to hear the mockingbirds sing.