Feathered friends take different flights out
Last updated at 09:04, Monday, 02 July 2012
FORGIVE me if I appear a little sombre this week.
It’s just that I was at a rather moving funeral on Thursday, with two of the grandchildren.
The dear departed was a baby blue tit, which had been left in the tender care of Mrs Hextol by a neighbour who had found it in his garden.
Quite why he brought it to Mrs Hextol is unclear, as she has a mortal terror of birds, but when anything or anybody needs help, she is first in the queue to provide it.
She put it out of harm’s way in one of the hanging baskets in the garden, but it fell out in a vain attempt to fly with its damaged wing.
After that, it was brought indoors to take up residence in a shoe box lined with cotton wool and a bit of woolly blanket.
Mrs Hextol even scoured the hedgerows to find the tiny green caterpillars that our resident blue tits feed upon, and drip fed the little mite droplets of water from the end of a pencil.
It seemed to be thriving, but the hullabaloo of grandchildren and parents arriving proved too much for the patient, who promptly went to twitter with the Choir Invisible.
The children were devastated, as they were looking forward to nursing the creature, but they brightened considerably when it was suggested we bury the scrap of feathers in the garden.
They spent half an hour constructing a quite beautiful little coffin out of tinfoil and tissue paper, and laid the little bird in it with due reverence.
We carried it out to the garden, where I scooped a hole in a large plant pot, and laid it to rest with due solemnity.
There was talk of prayers and a hymn, but I managed to convince them that might be a touch excessive – besides, the midges had all come to the funeral.
Mrs Hextol assured them that the little bird would be flying off to heaven, which on reflection may not have been such a good idea, because the next morning, they wanted to dig it up again to check if it had indeed fluttered off to the great bird table in the sky.
Thankfully, the weather was too wet for any impromptu exhumations, and I do believe next time they call, they will find that the bird has flown.
As if that were not enough avian dramas, I was gardening away on Sunday when I became aware that the dog was taking a keen interest in something at the bottom of the leylandii.
She was whimpering and pawing at the foliage, tail wagging, and when I finally managed to haul her squeaking out of the way, I saw a little ball of fluff cowering against the trunk.
I deduced from its yellow wing bars it was a juvenile goldfinch, which was in the process of learning to fly.
It had its flight feathers, but was clearly uncertain as to what to do with them.
Identification was confirmed when I saw a female goldfinch in an agitated state, calling from the top of a tall tree in a neighbour’s garden.
She had good cause to be concerned, for her little fledgling was in dire peril from the gnashing teeth of the dog, and I could hear the local cats sharpening their claws.
I tried to pick it up, but the terrified youngster hurled itself into the air – and flew straight into the conservatory window with a meaty thwack.
“Another one bites the dust,” I thought ruefully, but was agreeably surprised to find the little bird regarding me balefully from behind a plant pot, apparently none the worse for its clash with the glass.
It did appear to be a little winded though, so I left it for half an hour while I continued planting begonias, while the baffled dog continued to sniff hopefully around the leylandii.
Finally, I judged the bird to be recovered enough to be relaunched, and managed to grab it behind a hosta.
I could feel its little heart hammering against my hand, and feared another little funeral would be necessary.
I took it outside the garden, and tossed it into the air, roughly in the direction of the tree from which its mother had been calling. I fully expected it to crash to earth like a Junkers 88 riddled by Spitfire bullets, but it zoomed up, up and away, flying back over my head to freedom over the house roof.
First published at 09:08, Monday, 25 June 2012
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk