Ah, I didn’t pay attention to the bird chirping differently when I tossed the ladder under the staircase.
Then a series of smaller cries erupted right in the ladder / decrepit fence material area. Shit, I thought. Shit shit, I thought again again.
The Robin on the pine branch kept at it. I tiptoed closer to the pile, lifting junk with my pinkies raised, and saw a moving chicken part with some yellow fuzz on it. Then more: a disoriented baby flapping its new parts and hobbling.
I looked up at the discreet nest in our 2nd story staircase to confirm: bobbing fur in the nest, baby bird down. Baby was nestled in between the steps of the shorter ladder that I didn’t use. Nice. Too many siblings flipping the bird out of the nest and onto a metal ladder, only to get nearly pummeled by another ladder.
I got some stale bread and balled it up into bits before tossing it to the mother. Who didn’t take the bait. She just stared me down. I went back inside to consult with an expert.
“It says you can touch the babies but it needs to learn to fly from being on the ground. So leave it alone,” the Director summarized.
“Who says that?” I asked.
The rest of that day, and a couple days afterwards, the mother made herself known, flying very low near us whenever we sat outside in our splintered Adirondacks. Almost making eye contact as she flew by, getting worms and other parcel posts.
Our last joint bird encounter involved finding a nest on a ledge on our back porch right near the door. The dog was tall enough to rest his chin on the ledge. We used this door numerous times daily. But no one noticed it until the Director found a turquoise egg in the nest.
“We have a nest?” I was dumbfounded.
“Probably one of the kids was playing hide and seek and forgot where they hid this candy.”
“That’s an egg and you just ruined it by picking it up,” I yelled.
The Director said, “How you do you know?”
“What kids?” I had spread my arms out, palms up to take on the weight of the argument. “And what kid would forget about candy?”
This past April when the snow was being transformed to vapor, making the air opaque, a Robin sat at the window and stared at me for more than 12 minutes. The Director was still asleep. I felt its stare from across the room, with me sitting at my desk and looking out another window. I looked back and away. It kept staring. I looked at the clock and started timing it. The bird made few moves but kept up the stare. What? I whispered-yelled to it.
I sat back down at my desk. I saw the snow had melted a foot around the club house. I could now see the entire dog sled we no longer needed hanging on the side, as though we were part of Santa Claus’s Village.
I looked back. The bird was sending me a message.
I imagined it was our dog reincarnated as a bird. He always liked a view where he could see everything. It made sense to me.
Then I chastised myself for thinking like this. I went back to my desk. Three minutes later, it finally flew off.
“Idiot, did you give the bird some bread?”
I had mentioned it to a friend later.
Our dog was gone; so we no longer had to avoid attracting birds. Though now we saw in the snow footprints of animals we had never seen while our big man was still alive.
The Director threw out more bread for the mama bird, and named the fledgling Alphonse. She looked every hour to see if the bird had made progress. A few days later, the whole family vacated, on to their next transformation.