Have I ever told you how I rescued a bird in my driveway, thereby sacrificing a gorgeous beach day with my family?
We get all packed up, and roll the car out to the driveway to put the kayaks on the roof. And suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see a moving shape by the side of the driveway. What’s that? It’s a bird who doesn’t seem to be able to fly. He keeps trying and opening his wings and heaving his little body with all his might, but nothing is happening. Husband puts on some gardening gloves, picks up the thing and moves it to the grass by the side of the driveway, under a tree in the shade. We all get in the car and we go to the beach.
It is a gorgeous August day. Except now I’m all stressed out! The poor bird is under a tree and cannot move! It’s totally going to get eaten by some cat or raccoon or some other predator or something, and apparently, I have a conscience about these things because I can’t relax at all thinking about it. I mean, what is this bird if not just another patient in distress?
So, I start texting and calling people. I text a bunch of friends, whose responses range from laughing emojis to earnest advice about taking the thing to an animal hospital (here I remembered that Seinfeld episode where George runs over a squirrel and, because he’s dating an animal lover, pays a $5000 bill for its intensive care until it dies). None of it is helpful at all.
My neighborhood has a list serv, so I email them and my bleeding heart neighbors write back right away to tell me to call animal control. I do this after googling the phone number, but “Animal Control,” despite being a loud title, actually turned out to be the combo police/fire/rescue we have in my town, and the dispatch cop, like, laughed at me heartily when I told him the story, and then said that I should just call wildlife cleanup. I google wildlife cleanup, and their website talks about deer hit and runs, and like…. it’s a live bird, not roadkill…
So, then, I call the local RISPCA but they have one of those menus: “if you’d like to donate money to our cat program, press 1. If you’d like to donate money to our large dog program, press 2. If you like to donate money to our small dog program, press 2 twice. If you’d like to donate money without designating a program, press 3.” And no way to talk to a live a person.
I check back with the list serv. Someone wrote back saying that I should try a “bird rehabber,” and gives me the number of a couple of these “bird rehabbers.” I have no idea what that even is, but it sounds promising. I text one. She’s texts back that she’s in Ohio on a trip. She keeps texting and asking questions about the injured bird, though, and I can tell she’s really worried. A kindred soul.
I call the other one. She sounds high strung on the phone. She wants me to send her pictures of the bird. A video would be even better. I’m like, Fuck, dude! I’m at the beach! But since beach is ruined anyway, I leave my family there and drive home and take a video of the bird and send it her. My kids are like, “Where is mommy going?” My husband is just shaking his shiny head as he lathers the aforementioned head up with sunblock.
The bird rehabber calls me back immediately.
She wants me to bring this bird to her. The bird clearly has a neurological injury and is in a lot of distress, she says.
You know who’s in fucking distress?? Me!
And, she lives, it turns out, 35 min away!!
“Take a soft t shirt,” she says, “and gently wrap the bird in it, and put it a shoe box, and cover the shoe box completely, make sure it’s completely, and punch some air holes.”
And I’m still on the fact that, like, fucking Warwick!! I gotta drive to Warwick now?! And hubby is at the beach with the kids laughing his ass off.
“Are you sure RISPCA won’t help me?” I ask her. They’re located just around the block.
“NO!” she says. “There are only a few people in the state that can deal with injured birds.”
I find a t-shirt to donate, put the stupid thing in a shoe box. It has some holes in it already. So I’m driving. Listening to Middlemarch on audio. I fucking hate Victorian era English, they’re the fucking worst. But it’s beautifully written. Go George Eliot, you badass.
The crazy bird rehabber calls me back to make sure I punched the right number of holes in the box. She says, “It’s a hot day!”
And I say, “The car is air conditioned!”
And she says, “That is inconsequential!”
And I say, “I can take the cover off the box…”
And she says, “Absolutely not! That would stress the bird out more! This is why I gave you detailed instructions!”
And I say, “You realize most people would have put this thing in the trash, right?”
And she’s like, “Just get here.”
So, I’m driving along, and I’m like, watch this motherfucking bird die right as I get there! I check the box. But no. He’s still alive. Looking at me like he hates me.
I arrive at her house, and she looks as crazy as she sounded on the phone: frizzy red hair, and her arms are all scratched up, presumably by other birds she’s “rehabbed.”
I tentatively ask her if she’s a vet, and she looks at me all judgmental, and she’s like “I am a licensed wildlife rehabilitator!!”
I’m like, “What are you going to do?”
She says, “I’m going to give him some fluids, and some pain medications, and put him in a dark place.”
Are you kidding me? People in the emergency room don’t get freaking pain medications, haven’t you heard there is an opioid epidemic?!
I ask her, “Is this injury survivable?”
And she’s like, “Only time will tell…”
And I’m like omg, I am outta here!!!!
Drove back to the beach, where my husband was sipping a brewski from the cooler looking pink and relaxed, but it was too late by then and we all just went home to nap!!!
I better get my wings for this shit, I swear to god. No pun intended.