Posted 08-11-2004 at 15:56:46
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“Here’s your piece of paper.” I said to Fred, as I came through the front door holding the cowbird.
“Oh. Look at that.” He said, feigning excitement, his attention drawn immediately back to the car races. I couldn’t hardly blame him for his lack of interest. By now we’d had goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys, dogs, cats, a few piglets, a baby armadillo and a baby possum, a wild baby rabbit and a series of snakes in the house. What the heck was one more animal to get excited about?
I took the bird into the front bathroom, or the examination room, and checked him over. He seemed fine and fully intact, except for his feet, which were functionally sound but ugly as all sin. I set him down on the counter and he found the corner and pressed himself into it.
“Don’t worry. I don’t want you in here anymore than you want to be in here. As quick as you prove you can fly, you’re out of here.”
I won’t try to convince you that this bird could understand what I was saying. All I can tell you was that the second the words left my mouth, he flew right at me, around the room once, and settled on the shower curtain rod.
“Okay…that’s good enough for me.” I caught him and carried him back to the living room.
“Say goodbye to the cowbird, Fred.”
“Goodbye to the cowbird…Fred.”
I carried the bird outside. I don’t mind telling you that I took my time about releasing it. We had kind of established a tentative relationship and I knew that once he was free I would never see him again. Up close, anyway. I spoke to him as I carried him, reminding him how lucky he was that I had gone to the trouble of going out there and cutting him loose so that he could go on to new cows and new bugs and new fences that he, by the way, might want to think about steering clear of. He listened avidly, his little heart ticking against my hand a mile a minute.
My plan was to carry him out to the grove, and release him there. It was a relatively safe place where he could find a tree and sit a while and collect himself. Even though he didn’t appear hurt, I suspected that he was traumatized, and might need a while to get himself back under control.
I eyed the two gates that separate the front yard and the pig pasture from the grove. It was hot as Hades and twice as humid and I felt that I had done my part and had proof that the bird could fly, so I settled for just aiming the bird in the general direction of the grove and then tossing him into the air. After all, he could fly there a lot faster and easier than I could walk there.
Without a word of goodbye I lifted him, and gently tossed him into the air. What happened next couldn’t have been anymore surprising than if he’d suddenly turned into rock. He might as well have, as after a few awkward flaps, he did a nosedive straight into the pig pasture.
Even no bigger than he was, he made a startling amount of noise during landing, what with the frantic flapping and all, and much to my dismay, caught the attention of several sows that were lying out there basking in the afternoon sun.
A fact that few people know, is that pigs will eat anything. That means anything. We had two Duroc barr’s that almost completely wiped out our free-range chickens until I caught one of them with a Barred Rock hen in his maw and figured out what was going on. The minute my little cowbird landed in the pig pasture, he had the undivided attention of Jennifer Lopez, our registered Duroc sow. There are very few things that will prompt J-Lo to run. Food is one of them, even if it comes in the form of a mid-afternoon snack the size of a young cowbird.
(Next...Part III…The Reward)