He's NOT ours!
by Ronda Sivils
It was late spring and I was under my deck planting a few more tomato plants.
We have an 8 year old female mini schnauzer, named Indy, who loves to explore around the yard as I do my work. Sometimes she'll find toads, turtles or grasshoppers to amuse herself with or an occasional baby bunny.
If I see she's onto something I'll investigate and make sure it's not something she will hurt or something that will hurt her.
We love to watch the birds and have bird houses all over the place...some hanging on our house over the deck as well as hanging in trees.
We a have a large Martin house, (that sparrows have taken over), on a tall pole just off a cement patio close to where I was planting.
Well, I wasn't paying much attention to Indy, as it would be dark soon and I needed to get the plants in the ground.
I notice she's sniffing at something but I can't make out what it is. She'd sniff at it, it would hop out of her reach and she'd follow.
I thought it was a toad the way it was hopping away from her. As I get closer I see it's a baby bird, a sparrow, that looks almost old enough, but not quite ready to leave the nest.
figure he had fallen from the Martin house not far from the patio. He didn't appear to be hurt and now I'm thinking, great, it's almost dark and if I leave the poor thing here, it will surely be dinner for some of our local night time wildlife.
Raccoons will eat baby birds, given the chance. So, I pick the little guy up and place him in a nearby bush. But he jumps out of the bush and heads back for the patio.
So, I take him back to the bush and he is having none of it. He heads for the cement again. I finally decide to place him in one of the bird houses that hang on the back of our house.
One in particular that had a family of sparrows in it and that I could reach easily.
Now, I have no idea if the parents of this house will accept this new addition to their family, but I have to try.
So, through the hole he goes. I can see all the "goings" on of this bird house from my living room window, so we went inside to watch for the parents to return.
And what a return it was! First, the female bird returns with what I figure is the last meal of the day.
The new arrival is larger than her babies and pops his head up to receive the meal. He snatches the bug so fast out of her beak and still holding onto the hole, she leans back and cocks her head as if to get a better look.
I can tell she knows something is different. She then pokes her head into the house & pulls it out and turns to the male that is perched on the back of one of our patio chairs and starts giving him hell.
He has a bug in his beak as well and is waiting for her to finish and move out of the way. But, she is going nowhere and keeps poking her head in and out of the hole, looking back at him and chirping like crazy at him.
The male, still with dinner in his beak, is almost shrugging and chirping back at her as if to say, "How the hell do I know where he came from. It's not mine!"
Finally, she flies over to her mate and he flies up to the house to see for himself. Again, the newbie snatches that bug as well.
The Daddy Sparrow is just as perplexed, as he tries to defend himself to his mate, who by the way, is still giving him hell.
They spent the next fifteen minutes, taking turns flying back and forth from the chair to the nest, chirping at each other like crazy.
It was the funniest thing I ever saw. And it was well after dark when the activity at the nest finally stopped.
The next day, I was curious to see if they allowed the newbie to stay and sure enough, he was still there and they continued to feed him for the next two weeks.
Of course, he was bigger than his adopted siblings and got the lions share of all the meals, but he was allowed to stay.
Fortunately, we got to see the day they coaxed him from the nest. For the whole day, they brought him food and encouraged him to fly short distances around our deck.
The parents would take turns caring for him, bringing him bugs and caring for those still in the nest.
Around 8pm that night, the parents coaxed him into a lilac bush just off our deck and that's the last we saw of him. We were delighted "Nebee",(that's what we named him), had been adopted and had been given a second chance by strangers.
A couple of weeks later, we watched as the parents coaxed their own babies from the nest.
There were 5, not including Nebee. It was fascinating to watch the cycle of life right outside our window.