It’s never a good sign when a baby bird is blocking your lane.
But that’s where I find myself on the first lap.
He’s tiny. Just sitting there with his little feathers all ruffled up, oversized beak poking the ground. Lost. Incredibly sad.
I am awful at mortality. I hate confronting stuff like this, generally leaving the dirty work to Mo. But she has given me a head start because I’m slow, so she’s not here. What to do?
I gingerly move him with my shoe, thinking it’s better to get shoe stink on him than people stink. Yes, he’s a guy. Funny how you project your gender on injured animals. But there.
I park him by the side of the track and resume running so that I can keep things below 15-minute pace. I call Mo, who is a bird rescue expert. (Longtime readers will recall the Great Hummingbird Rescue.) I tell her she might want to drive over and maybe bring a box. Like I know anything.
She arrives a few minutes later. I show her the little guy and then get back to running. I come around a lap later and pause to help her look for a nest. It’s been crazy windy, and we’re guessing there’s a nest overhead. But none to be seen. While we’re walking around, she gasps. There’s another little guy in the grass. Damn.
Mo takes off one of her socks (not to worry — she has the curious habit of changing them periodically) and moves this one next to his brother. Yes, they’re both guys. Stop it. She builds them a little wind break out of dead grass and sticks. They cuddle up. I resume running.
We run along discussing options. She says the wildlife rescue people don’t think you should do anything. Better to leave them alone and hope for the best. She thinks a dove sitting nearby on a telephone wire might be mom. I cling to that hope.
She wants to put them in our New Balance box and take them home but knows it would be futile. Their best hope is to stay put. All we can do is say a little prayer and hope for the best. Isn’t so much of life like that?
The rest of the run is a balancing act between keeping pace down and pausing to check on the guys, look for nests and survey nearby birds as potential mommy figures. On the bright side, the distractions make the run fly by. If 13:30 miles can be considered flying.
I finish up my five miles and high-five Mo as she passes by on her last couple of laps. We sit in the bleachers as the sun sets. The four of us are alone.
They’re just two little stranded birds.
Maybe that’s why it bothers me so much. Because in so many ways, so are we …
5 miles t (13:42)