The Sparrows at the Beach
While a volunteer for the Wildlife Center of the North Coast, when their boundary reached our county, I was fortunate to work with many wonderful and highly skilled wildlife rescue personnel. Because of their training I was successful in reintroducing rehabilitated injured, young or stressed animals back to their environment. One of the silliest of stories was working with Dave and Candace who live in a home no less than that of Dr. Doolittle...at least in our imaginations! Two kind souls with one foot on the firmament, the other aloft, Dave and Candace live side by each with a variety of animals and birds. Every corner of their home is alive.
One spring day I had a call from the State Police regarding a nest of sparrows whose mother had found the perfect spot in the niche between the trailer and the hitch. Somehow the owners didn't notice the nest when they hitched up and then drove two and a half hours from Portland, Oregon to Beverly Beach in Newport, Oregon. Upon arrival they found the accidentally orphaned nest of five sparrows who, after a very unusual experience, were hungry and loud in making their concerns known. Arrangements were made and the nest delivered to my home by a retired Stater and his wife. Through the Wildlife Center a group of us had established a pony express style of ferrying creatures up to Astoria. And so the babies began with me the second leg of their journey to recovery; (not the third, for the first trip was what caused the problem!)
It was unbelievable the racket five little baby sparrows could make! Insistent as each of my three children when they were babies, my reaction was the same. The need to fulfill a baby's cry flips a blinking red light switch in mothers of all species. Some mothers are better than others at ignoring the cries, or being patient, or calm, or methodical in their nurturing. Me, it's a call to arms! Fix it!!! Age has helped...some. So there I was, driving along and only about a mile from my home with 35 ahead of me on a road that wends it's way along the coastline with five, five, babies going at it full tilt. Yikes. Sighting an accessible wet spot at the base of a hillside I pulled off the rural highway and dug with a stick into the goo thankfully finding a handful of worms. Back to the car and opening the box to five fluffy chicks, bright yellow beaks opened straight up looking nothing so much like a flower...but very loud and insistent! They gulped down those worms as fast as I could place them.
On the road again we made it about 10 minutes up the road when I had to pull over, again, and dig through the mud, again! Even with the door closed I could easily hear those five babies calling to me... Feed Me! Fed, we were again on our way and this time made it to Dave and Candace's home. Dave and Candace knew just what to do and graciously and generously shared their experiences. They settled the babies in to their new home, fed them and checked them over from beak to tail feathers and then I was on my way back home.
I called some days later to check on the sparrows and found out, because house sparrows are an invasive species, they are not cared for by wildlife rescue units. Dave and Candace, the humanitarians that they are, thus became foster parents...again. Week followed week, pinfeathers grew out to beautifully plumed little birds. Spring blossomed, the coast warmed and one day Candace left the window open in the room with the rehabilitating birds which included the fledglings. Soon, the sparrows flew but they didn't fly away. They returned, Day after day, the sparrows were like children spending the day outdoors playing and returning to the safety of their home in the late afternoon. After a bit, the window was closed but still the sparrows stayed in the wild landscape surrounding their adopted home.
One day I again ferried an injured bird to Dave and Candace. Upon arrival and stepping from the car, Dave walked up to greet me. I noticed the birds in the trees were very close to us and expressed surprise. Dave introduced the fledglings as the babies of a few weeks previous and their habit of keeping after the humans, flying about their heads, landing on them, and calling after them, so long as they were outside. The sparrows stayed with Dave and Candace all summer long and into the fall. They'd found their way into the world with a little help.