Page Fifty-three

Do I have to say what kind of animal Robin was? Born in spring 1990 and died in November 1994. Brought to me as a nestling by my loving cat Melinda.

Nestling means that Robin was all feathered in when Mindy brought her, ready to learn to fly but not there yet. Unable to get her own food. Still pulling the head back, opening wide, and cheeping when she was hungry. Like all young members of the thrush family of birds, she had a white a breast with black spots. As far as I know, robins are the only thrushes that lose these spots with the first molt.

We had gone on a trip down to Disney World in 1990, returned around the tenth of June, and only a few days later, no more than a week, Mindy brought this young bird to the bottom of the stairs. I was already in possession of a female sparrow that Mindy had brought me as a nestling the year before. Mindy seemed very eager to help me increase my number and knowledge of birds.

I fed the little bird myself, on wet bread and baby food, and she survived. Most often they don’t, but she did. I’d used those same foods the year before on the sparrow, who’d lived, so I didn’t feel like changing a formula that had worked. But with Robin there was a little glitch that I hadn’t encountered with birdlings before, and that glitch was lice. An unbelievable number of the tiny little buggers. In the nest, the mother bird takes care of de-lousing, and since I was now the mother bird, I had to think of something. I didn’t want to use chemical, store-bought preparations, either on the bird or in my kid’s bedroom, where Robin was living. I had read more than once that many bugs don’t like garlic (right along with vampires), and so I made garlic water by soaking diced garlic in jars of water for a day or two. Then I washed the bird, her box, her bedding, and wiped down all the furniture in the room with garlic water. It worked, folks. Only had to do it twice, and all the little lice was gone.

Unlike all of my other birds, who lived on seeds of various sorts, Robin consumed mynah bird pellets, which had been doing well for my mother’s blue jay for ten years. But the blue jay would eat them dry, whereas Robin would eat very few of them in the hard state. Not surprising, I guess, since robins seem to live on moist foods most of the time. I had to soak the pellets in water until they were soft, and then all was well. This was the mainstay of her diet, with occasional pieces of wet bread, which she liked, or blueberries, or hamburger.

Robin’s is a death I feel at least partly responsible for, and therefore it’s hard to write about. Not because I don’t want to admit my mistake, but because a dark ball of self-disgust rises up, and extra pain on top of the normal load that I live with every day.

She shines, like all the others, as one of the bright stars on the map of the years I’ve lived; and I miss her, like all the others, still today.
read… All my stars… Stolen stars

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all photos, graphics, poems and text copyright 2008-2011 by anne nakis, unless otherwise stated. all rights reserved

Published in: on December 12, 2011 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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