The Story of the Nuthatch
(San Fransciso area)
Thanks for all the work you did on this website. Obviously, you're a person with heart. Birds, as I'm sure your well aware, need such champions. Increasingly, their environment is getting stressed.
I live in the SF Bay Area---green (now) Marin Co. Lots of open space and woodsy hills and lakes, over 50 per cent of county protected. Still, a lot of the birds I used to see and hear even 10 years ago I don't anymore.
That's a big reason to help.
The other day something scared a pygmy nuthatch and it crashed into my window. I heard the thump and went out on my deck and saw it on its back, helpless, fluttering madly trying to right itself. It couldn't, completely disoriented. I picked it up and held it upright in my cupped hand, calming its frenzy, though its toes were curled under its body in a weird way. Then with my index finger I did tiny bird bodywork---periodically stroking gently from top of head to tail. At first it just sat there dazed, beak agape. I thought: "This bird might not make it."
I felt the bird's incredible warmth---the 105 degrees you mention---now imperceptibly draining. The morning was cold, frosty. I thought: "If this nuthatch is going to rally, it has to be soon. Every couple of minutes, it would seem to revive a little, turning it's head, looking up at the other nuthatches flocking to the hanging feeder, etc. Then again, it would fall back into a stupor. The nuthatch was really on the brink, fighting for its life.
A chickadee saw what I was doing, trying to help, and flew past my left shoulder as sat there cross-legged, holding the nuthatch. A chickadee commiserating?...Maybe, who knows?...Investigating, certainly!...
Finally after 15 minutes, the nuthatch turned its head sideways to look up briefly with one eye up at my huge human face staring down. I talked soft words.
Maybe they helped. After another couple of minutes, it suddenly burst from my palm to land on top of a deck chair, clinging upside down to a strip of plastic webbing. "Well, its toes are working." There it stayed, motionless, gathering strength. A couple of more minutes passed. Then in a flash, this tiny hero dove downward from its perch, did a one eighty and boomeranged back to rejoin its comrades in the leafless branches of a cherry plum tree. A haiku share, Susan----
Big cool air, small warm
dynamo, feathers' peeless cloak---
who, pray, holds patent?
A lovely story, Peter. Thank you for sharing.