Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cardinal Rules

Archibald* is now allowed to prowl the garden at will. Last weekend this was not the case. If he dared go out, the father cardinal would start to chirp a shrill alarm. It would be quickly followed by a warning cry by the mother. Their babies were hatching and they were not about to let a cat get near the nest.

They did not know that he has hip condition that makes it impossible for him to jump very high or to walk for long. His backside does not always follow his front and he flops down after a few minutes of movement. He only hesitantly goes out to the garden and is content inside with his many stuffed mice, stick, and myriad bottle caps.

But he is mesmerized by the birds and for the week the baby cardinals hatched we kept him inside. And it was probably a good thing. The fledglings all fell exhausted into my flower beds where they fluttered around under the very very watchful eyes of their parents. None could fly but all were curious. Each eyed me in wonderment as I tied to snap their picture. As you can see above I did a terrible job. Photography is not my medium.

The cardinal chicks were not the only children who unceremoniously fell out of the nest at my household two weeks ago. And like the mother cardinal, all I can do is flutter about, bring some food, and hope that the fledgling will figure out to fly. I hope that I can can plan as well as the cardinals did and find him a safe garden where he can land to grow strong.

*Archibald is a stray with Egyptian Mao spots that we rescued from the animal shelter. His predecessor, Osiris, was a pure-breed Abyssinian who could easily jump over a 7 ft high fence and land directly on his prey in the adjacent garden.

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