Mockingbirds, mealworms, growling pigeons…and squirrels are friggin’ cute


Wild Thursdays are so fresh Thursday night that I should really remember to blog that night. But spending the evening at wildlife rescue is like going to a great concert. You get home, you can’t sleep, and all you can think about is how much fun you had.

It’s squirrel season, and squirrels are CUTE. Friggin’ cute. I’ll say it again. They are cute. Why the hangup about cute squirrels you ask? Read on.

The animal care coordinators at the wildlife rescue I volunteer at are young. Smart, but young. Given that they deal with young, inexperienced volunteers and also women in their 30s with a hankerin’ for baby animals, they decided to put out a rules sheet and have us sign it.

I’m cool with most everything on the sheet. Don’t walk around with an animal, don’t talk too much (stresses the animal), close the door when you’re running the blender, call if you’re going to be late, out, etc. However, there’s one rule I don’t get.

Because these animals are wild, we are not supposed to refer to them as cute. Kinda silly. As one of the other volunteers, Juliann, said, we wouldn’t be here if the animals weren’t cute, and she doubts any squirrels or baby great egrets will be knocking on our doors anytime soon because we boosted their ego with a little sweet talk. ;-p Now, if it was mealworm rescue I could understand. But if you are ever asked to feed a baby squirrel and your knees become weak from watching it grip the little milk bottle you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Speaking of mealworms. Mockingbirds that are a little bigger than babies (teenagers maybe?) that come in to the rescue are fed the Basic Nestling Diet and mealworms. What I love about feeding these birds is that they are such awesome gapers, and it’s so wonderful to me that a wild bird would go, “wow, cool, food…worms” and take it right from the medical tweezers from whence it came. I’m honored that a wild animal would trust me enough to feed it and accept the food willingly.

Sigh. I’m not too inspired tonight, but I would like to say that I held my first big bird by myself (the crow being the only other exception), to give it meds. It was a pigeon, and when I went to go and retrieve it from its cage, it GROWLED at me. I was so shocked that I laughed a little and asked Jeanie what I should do. She said, well, he might bat you with his wings and bite you, but it won’t be that bad. That said, I sequestered pigeon-dog in a towel and all he did was look honestly up at me. All bark and no beak.

It’s Not Okay

I started reading a book the other day called Ecopsychology. The premise, it seems, is that if we live in harmony with the natural world we will help the planet and help ourselves.

I see why people struggle. You see, I go to work every day, like everyone else. Many people like their job, even I do somedays. I work at a really big company with many nice people, but it’s all about making the shift once you leave for the day. It’s so hard to return to the natural world. And as my friend Jo likes to say – “money and momentum” does something to people. When I finally get out in nature, either by hiking or observing the hummingbirds and mourning doves that visit my little porch, I’m struck by the fact that the wild is foreign to me, but I know it’s someplace I have to get back to. It’s a hunger, a longing, a very deeply rooted feeling.

But here’s the rub. The natural world is so removed from us now. We try to “escape” to national parks and we try to bring some of the natural world to us through our gardens and our pets. I know why people struggle – they have been entrenched in concrete for so long that they have forgotten their place in the natural world, and when it makes the occasional visit – a snake in a basement, or a rat in a storm drain, our first impulse is to kill, and in doing so we kill another part of the wildness within us. In the river of life we are in boats with no windows and few opportunities to jump in to the ocean and swim alongside. The waters are murky and we are afraid we will see who we truly are when we part the silt.

How do we begin to heal? I know I’m getting close to something but I too fear the waters sometimes.

Last night I went to a beautiful wedding reception at a placed called Blake’s at Boundary Oak in Walnut Creek. The other couple that were supposed to be at our table couldn’t make it, so from our table I had a clear view of the golf course, the mountains, and an amazing sunset. As we stepped outside to enjoy the remains of the day, I had this feeling that I wanted to go take a nap in the grass next to the duck pond below. I wanted to feel the earth below me, and in my head I welcomed the sprinklers.