Night-shift: A Rescue

Life in the country is full of surprises. Take last night for example. We had gone to bed at our usual relatively early hour (for a Saturday) just before 11:00 p.m. It took some time to get to sleep since the air conditioner was running to keep my mom cool, and it is already cool enough for us in the downstairs quarters we inhabit.

Our bedroom is a finished room off of the family room in the basement, and our bedroom window is considered an “egress” window that easily accesses the outside in case of emergency. We’ve been having some unique drop-ins to this window well, which is quite deep and becomes rather a trap for anything that finds itself inside it. We rescued a few frogs and a meadow vole when we’ve heard tiny scratching noises coming from inside the well, or up against the window. We never expected what happened last night.

After we had finally fallen asleep, we were suddenly awakened by a commotion in the well. My side of the bed is next to the window and I immediately jumped out of bed, grabbed my glasses and shoved them on my face, and snatched the small LED flashlight that I now keep on my bedside table for just this sort of thing.

I pulled back the drape and trained the light on the inside of the well. There, I thought I could make out the back end of a big rabbit, but when I flashed the light the animal turned around and I could see it was a cat! The cat leaped out of the well, gave me a dirty look, and when I banged on the window, it tore off into the darkness.

I was unconvinced that the cat had been in the well and made all that racket over nothing, so I pushed aside the large wooden poster board that we use to keep out the light and again trained my torch on the inside of the well. To my astonishment, on the opposite side, in the corner, was a baby robin.

At this point I rousted Kevin to get up and take a look because I fully intended to go outside and get the robin out of the well. So, we got some clothes on, grabbed the flashlight and a paper bag, opened the sliding doors to our deck and stepped outside.

Of course, it was raining. In this drizzle, wearing my crocs, I stepped down into the well while Kevin shone the light on the poor, petrified bird that was now flapping and trying to no avail to get out of the well.

I bent down and managed to capture the bird gently between my palms and quickly dropped it into the paper bag. I had seen this tactic once on a nature program about birds in cities, and had used it a few times to save stunned birds who had hit my kitchen window at my old house. The bird immediately calmed down once in the bag, and Kevin and I stood there, looking around the dark backyard in effort to come up with a plan for where to put the bird. We needed a place where it would be out of harm’s way, but also accessible should the mother come to find it.

I scanned the yard, and the deck, and then my eye landed on the hanging basket of hot-pink geraniums on the opposite fence. I knew this was the ideal place.

We walked over to the hanging basket and I tipped the bag into an opening between the stems. The baby held on to the bag, scared to come out to the unknown on the other side of its paper walls, but eventually, I turned the bag upright and it dropped out. Immediately, it settled into the space and I reached out and very gently stroked its back to reassure it.

When I went back to bed, it was after 1:30 a.m.  The rest of the story can be told in the photos that I managed to take last night and this morning. I’m still smiling when I think of it.

Safe in the geranium pot.

Waiting for Mama
Mama appears.
Hunting for grub.
A good meal.
Any second now…
Mama to the rescue!

A short time later, I realized that Mama was having difficulty getting a good angle to approach the baby for more feedings. (I couldn’t get any good photos of her doing this because she was so speedy. She would fly in, land, shoot the food into the baby’s waiting open mouth, and buzz off again.) I decided to intervene by sacrificing a couple of my geraniums, so I got a pair of kitchen scissors, stepped out onto the deck (in the pouring rain) and put on my sopping wet crocs, but by the time I got out to the fence, they had flown the coop – baby and all!

Mission accomplished.


Lazarus Revisited

A couple of Sundays ago, Kevin drew my attention to what we thought was a silvery toad, that seemed to be stuck to a nook in the stairs to our deck.  I touched its cold back gingerly, but it didn’t move a muscle.  Naturally, we assumed it was dead, and proceeded to mourn it with the usual murmurs of regret.

Kevin headed back to the garage at the front of the house, while I proceeded to water in some of our new plantings.  A thought struck me, and I decided to give the “toad”, a gentle spray with the hose (don’t ask me why!). Much to my surprise, the toad began to move in a 45 degree angle towards the spray!  I was ecstatic, and called to Kevin to come and see.

Of course, as it was Sunday, and the readings at church had concerned the revivifying of a dead man, I christened the toad, Lazarus.

I managed to pick Lazarus up and carry him to the bottom of the garden, near St. Francis, where it is really boggy.  He quickly settled in under the fronds of the goats’ beard we had planted there.

An internet search revealed that our “toad” was actually a “Grey Tree Frog” who had not turned green.

A few hours later, when I checked the spot, he had vanished!  I was chagrined.

Today, we were out in the backyard and I was just putting down some pots of plants that will be going in the garden soon, when Kevin again called to me.  This time, “Lazarus” was sitting in the sun, on the bit of trough that extends out from the side of the house.  He was much greener now before (in fact, he seems to have gotten bigger too, and he may NOT be Lazarus at all).  I shall call him, Ra since he does seem to love the sun.

I think Lazarus and Ra will be quite happy when we put this spider plant into the ground with the goats’ beard.

Last night we spotted a Meadow Vole underneath the fence.  I think it will be much harder to get a photo of him.  He’s quite shrew-like, so he has been given the name, Petruchio. Get it?