status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage
It’s that time of year again.
The time of year when I have to try, but usually fail, to keep my cool as I ask people to please, please, please LEAVE BABY BIRDS WHERE YOU FIND THEM!
It’s the great irony of human nature that vast numbers of human beings plod through life utterly oblivious to the life cycles of the creatures with which they share their ecosystem; unable even to name the most common of the feathered songsters that provide the soundtrack to our daily lives; clueless as to the whys or wherefores of their frenetic springtime activities.
And yet, upon coming across a newly fledged emergent sitting around minding its own business waiting for mum or dad to bring it a worm or a seed or a wriggly insect or two, an ornithological expert is miraculously born.
So year after year I am forced to watch, as the undoubtedly well-meaning but indisputably ignorant, cart baby wrens, house martins, great tits, sparrows and the rest off to a future where their chances of survival have been slashed from already-fraught-but-at-least-mum-and-dad-have-got-my-back, to nil.
Sure enough, within a few days of being force-fed unnatural food in a highly stressful and unnatural environment, a small feathered corpse will be winging its way to a nearby dumpster.
Having verbally tussled with friends and neighbours on the subject – and got precisely nowhere – I was sad but resigned when some local girls brought me my very own little sparrow just a few days ago.
Two days of suet pellets, bits of dried mealworm and an assortment of seeds were not enough to appease the agitated mite, whose only goal was to get back to the place from which it had been “rescued” – an environment for which the basic rules of survival have been written into its DNA.
A stiff little body at the bottom of a poo-stained cardboard prison was the pitiful result.
Life is a bitch. Baby birds die – that’s why the adult birds tend to lay a clutch rather than a solitary egg – but their already slim chances of survival are vastly reduced by human interference, however well-intentioned.
So, at risk of making myself very unpopular, I shall continue to harp on to my friends and neighbours – urging them to by all means move exposed baby birds to the safety of a nearby bush or hidey-hole, but just not to take them home. Their parents will be looking out for them: they will run themselves ragged and tatty bringing food to their young until they are fully independent.
That’s what parents do, and nature should never be underestimated.
This is Status Viatoris, a soap box for every occasion and boy what a collection I have amassed over the years, in Italy.