The Fledgling

Hearing the persistent squawking of a bluejay and the frantic chirping of a wren, I looked out my kitchen window to see what the fuss was about.  In the dim light of dusk, I could see both the bluejay and wren perched in the huge old ash tree; the small brown wren stood on a low branch close to its nest in the hanging birdhouse, and the larger, brightly-colored bluejay stood on a limb above.   Was the bluejay attacking the young peeping wrens in the nest?  No, that did not seem plausible.  I looked around and then I realized the problem. A fledgling bluejay stood as still as death in the grass –apparently, it had fallen from its nest up high– and six inches behind it, my fluffy calico cat crouched on the ground and stared.  The adult birds were sounding an alarm about the presence of the cat, hoping to scare it away.  However, my cat did not budge.  For some reason, she did not pounce or swat at the bird.  She just sat, mesmerized.

Wanting the baby bird to survive, I quickly went outside to call the cat, and to my surprise, she actually left the bird and came to me.  (How could the cat resist a live little bird on the ground?) I scooped up my cat, brought her inside, and fed her.  With the absence of the cat, the birds immediately quieted down.

Then I looked out the window as the baby bluejay hopped across the lawn and tried to fly.  It flapped its wings furiously, but it could lift its body only a few inches off the ground.  The adult bluejay followed its fledgling and flew from the ash, hovered over its young, and then landed in a nearby redbud tree.  Then both birds went down a hill, one hopping and the other flying, until they were out of sight.  I do not know if the parent bird could help its young in any way, and I do not know if the fledgling survived.  But I do know that my cat did not eat the birds and that I had the lovely opportunity to spy on adult birds protecting their young in nature.

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