There is never a dull moment in the Burcaw household, and this afternoon was a perfect example of that.
My friend Lily (lilygnilu.tumblr.com) and I hung out at my house today. We spent most of the afternoon working on nonprofit activities, but eventually the beautiful day persuaded us to go outside. As we made our way to the patio in my backyard, we heard a loud, rapid flapping noise coming from above.
My mom loves birds. Our backyard is filled with birdhouses, birdbaths, bird feeders, and lots of birds, but this flapping noise was louder and more annoying than the usual chorus of obnoxious bird noises that normally fill the backyard. We quickly located the source of the noise. Below one of the wooden birdhouses near the roof of our deck, in a tangled mess of ivy, was a puffball of feathers in complete spazz mode.
Lily cautiously approached. Even though the psychotic bird was a solid 3 feet above her head, she clearly feared that it was going to burst out of the ivy and peck her to pieces at any moment.
“Oh no! It’s stuck!” Lily yelled in horror, “What do we do?”
Upon closer inspection, she discovered the bird’s foot was caught in some plastic that was also caught on the ivy branch. It was decided that we obviously couldn’t just leave the bird hanging upside down where it would die a slow and lonely death. We had to rescue it.
It’s important to understand the conflict of this situation. Lily desperately wanted to save this bird’s life, but at the same time, touching the bird, or even getting too close was overwhelmingly scary. Her initial reaction was to climb onto the railing of our deck (which sits about 8 feet off the ground), but before she was able to stand all the way up, I convinced her to get down. If the bird would’ve spazzed while she was balancing on the railing, she definitely would’ve fallen to her death and this post would be way less fun to write.
I told her to grab a stepping stool, a box, and scissors from inside the house. While she was inside gathering supplies I realized it was probably good that we were the only two home. My brother would’ve handled this situation with a baseball bat, and it would not have been pretty.
Lily returned with the supplies and set up the stepping stool to better assess the situation. While she was carefully and fearfully surveying the damage, my cat jumped up on the railing and began trying to climb the wooden post up to the birdhouse. I hope she doesn’t get mad at me for saying this, but Lily basically lost self-control at this point. There was lots of shrieking and all I heard was “OHMYGODIDONTKNOWHOWTOHANDLETHISWHATDOIDOHELPMESHANEAHHHH!”
Somehow she was able to pull it together and found the strength to grab Oreo (my cat) and put her inside. Lily was on the verge of tears. I was sitting down below, laughing hysterically, but trying to be as sensitive as possible. It was funny, but I also didn’t want the bird to die.
After she had calmed down, Lily and I devised a plan to cut the branches around the bird so that it would fall into the shoebox that she would be holding below. Amazingly, the plan worked to perfection. It is worth noting (if it’s not obvious) that Lily carried out the plan completely on her own. She had to balance on the stepping stool, while cutting the branches with scissors in her one hand, and holding the shoebox for the bird to fall into in the other hand. It was rather spectacular.
Now the bird was in the shoebox, but still far from being rescued. It flopped around in the box, getting blood (not sure where the blood came from) and poop everywhere, its foot still firmly bound to the branch that Lily had cut loose.
For the next half-hour we tried to figure out how to free the bird from the plastic without Lily having to touch it. She called her mom seeking guidance, but the first thing her mom said was, “DO NOT bring that bird home.”
Lily was too emotionally, physically, and mentally spent to perform the necessary task on her own. So we called Pat, who was in the process of buying a suit for prom:
Lily: “Hey Pat, I’m with Shane and we have an emergency. We have a bird in a box and its leg is caught in plastic and it’s going to die.”
Pat: “That’s not an emergency.”
Lily: “Well it is to us. We need you to come to Shane’s as soon as possible. I know you are buying a suit, so don’t rush, but you have a life on your hands now, so the faster the better.”
Pat: “*laughs* Ok I will be there as fast as I can. It’s going to be at least a half hour though.”
The next half-hour was packed with emotion. We named our bird Benigna. We told her stories and asked her questions and talked about life and death. We wanted her to feel loved in case Pat didn’t make it on time or something went wrong in the plastic removal procedure. There were laughs. There were tears. Meanwhile, I secretly researched the best way to euthanize a bird on my phone, just in case.
Benigna was a fighter, though. She was alert and calm when Pat showed up to save the day. I immediately began to prepare Pat for surgery, filling him in on what had happened (trying not to laugh too hard) and explaining what had to be done.
Pat basically ignored the plan I had laid out for him, which involved him subduing Benigna, while Lily delicately cut away the plastic with the scissors. Instead, he grabbed the bird with his right hand, and started to gently loosen the plastic with his left. He was so graceful and compassionate that I wondered if he had done this many times before.
It might have taken him a total of two minutes to free Benigna, if you subtract the time where she jumped out of his hands and hid under a bush. We cheered as he removed the last of the plastic and Benigna fluttered over to my mom’s garden to recover (hopefully lol). Relief washed over us. Mission accomplished. Life saved.
Had there been an audience, the three of us would have received a standing ovation.