|Birth: ||Jun., 1985|
In the Summer of 1985 my son came running into our house holding a baby bird in his hands. It was a little robin with just his downy feathers, who had most likely fallen out of the nest. My son had rescued him from one of our four cats, as we didn't allow our cats to eat live animals. He showed me where he had found the bird and we looked in vain for a nest, but couldn't find it. We could, however, hear the poor mother chirping away and we put the baby bird down on the ground for a while and brought the cats in. The mother bird did fly down to check on her baby, but she couldn't possibly carry it back to the nest and neither my son nor I could see where she flew to, when she left her baby. We put the baby bird in a shoe box and headed out to the Audubon Society in West Portland. Unfortunately, they were overcrowded and had absolutely no room for even one more bird. The only thing they could suggest, if I was up to it, was that we raise the bird until he got his flight feathers. At that time, we would take him to a woman who had a flight cage where the bird would practice flying upward; when he was old enough to be released, there was a safe place where they released the young birds every summer and our bird would be set free at that time. My son, Anthony, and I agreed to the plan. I just couldn't let the little bird die. Our next stop was a pet shop where we bought a bird cage and dry dog food, believe it or not. We soaked the dry food and cut it into small pieces, then would feed the pieces to the little bird until he was full. My son wanted to name him Gilbert, so Gilbert it was. He also wanted Gilbert in his room, so, at sundown, I placed a towel over the cage and Gilbert went to sleep. Anthony went to bed later, as did I. The next morning, at about 4:30 a.m., Gilbert woke up and decided he was hungry. Anthony wasn't ready for a 4:30 wake up call and came to get me (Gee, thanks). We finally agreed on taking turns, which was only fair. Gilbert outgrew the dog food and I talked to our friend at the pet store where my son worked part-time; he suggested meal worms and told me to make certain to crush their heads so they didn't catch hold of the back of Gilbert's throat, causing him to choke. He said it would only be an issue for a little while, as Gilbert was growing every day and starting to get his adult wings. But boy, were they expensive and I couldn't believe Gilbert's appetite! He was eating like there was no tomorrow! And I thought my son had an appetite (he was 13 yrs. old at the time and growing like there was no tomorrow, too!). Our kitties loved to watch 'bird TV' & could only sit & watch Gilbert in his cage when Anthony was in his room. Also, if Gilbert was out of his cage, the cats had to leave the room & the door was shut. Robins hop and listen for echos so they can find worms. I'd put a meal worm on the floor and tap the floor... Gilbert would hop right over and that was the end of the worm! I always made certain that all the worms were eaten or put back in the container as I didn't want any stray worms in the house. We'd take Gilbert outside so, in case his mother was watching, she could see he was still alive and doing okay. He liked to perch on Anthony's and my fingers & enjoyed hopping around the front yard. Then came the day he started to fly upwards! We easily caught him as he couldn't stay aloft very long, but our time with Gilbert was coming to an end. I contacted the lady with the flight cage, and, after work, Anthony and I took Gilbert to his new temporary home. He grew stronger and stronger, flying upward for longer & longer times, higher and higher. It was time for Gilbert to be set free. Early on a Saturday morning, we carefully placed the birds into 4 pet carriers & took them to a place on the Clackamas River where there were lots of trees, bushes and buzzing bugs for them to catch and eat. At the same moment, we opened the carriers and out they flew, up into the trees. I felt a lump in my throat and tears stung my eyes. I couldn't tell where he was, only that he was in one of the trees, free like he was supposed to be and alive, and I had had a part in it. I had cleaned out Gilbert's cage and sanitized it before giving it to the Audubon Society, along with the rest of the dry dog food & the meal worms. Our cats had had an interesting summer watching bird TV in my son's bedroom and we had learned that baby birds wake their mothers up before the crack of dawn. I also learned that if I ever stop having migraines I will gladly volunteer to feed the baby birds at the Audubon Society because it made me feel special, like when I played midwife a couple of times to female cats that I'd taken in, but that's a different story.
Specifically: Gilbert lived a long life & when he died, his body deteriorated like all wild birds remains do.
Created by: Kathie L. Webb Blair
Record added: Sep 09, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 96738565