Thursday, April 17, 2008

How to Be a Hero

At 12, Weston is allowed more freedom to roam, as long as he's no more than a cell phone call away. Last weekend he used that freedom to ride to 7-11 with the three boys that live across the street (12-year-old identical twins, and their very jaded 15-year-old brother). About half an hour after they left, I got a call from Weston. "Mom. We found a bird that fell out of it's nest. I think it's a mockingbird." I explained that it would be best for the chick if they just left it, and that the parents were probably nearby, feeding it. After doing my best to explain nestling/parent interactions, and with his impatient friends champing at the bit to leave, it became apparent that the bird was coming home with him in his baseball hat.

At home, all of the boys crowded around the box to which they had transferred the tiny bird. Shouldering my way in, I laughed in relief! A killdeer! This would be easy to reunite with it's parents. They had only managed to find it because it was hiding amongst some vinca, where it must have had only minimal camouflage. I packed four boys and a baby killdeer back in my car, and as we headed back to the church where they found the bird, they indignantly related that the minister had told them to leave it behind, that if the bird died, it was "Nature's way".

No parents could be heard or seen around where they found the baby, so undaunted, we headed a few hundred yards away to Ross Creek, a channelized stream with gravel levees. Sure enough, the anxious parents (and if you know killdeer, you know they do anxious really well) were there, flying in circles and calling. We set the box down, backed off and waited for the parents to get a bead on the location of their chick. After about 20 minutes, the trio was reunited. Who would have thought that something as small as a killdeer chick could get four gangling, world weary teens high-fiving and feeling like heroes?

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