So when I was little my dad commuted every week to New York from our sleepy little southern town, and sometimes out of the country. One trip took him to Scotland where he bought for me a West Highland puppy. This was way back when airline travel was considered pretty fancy and before the nightmares of rushing, impatience and danger for animals. I don’t imagine animals traveled overseas much back in the 60s, if at all.
Dad put this little puppy in his overcoat pocket. When the stewardess saw her she melted. So Dad kept the puppy with him the whole flight home.
I was a very shy person. I did not have a lot of friends when I was growing up and loved reading books. Piper became my dearest and closest friend. As we got older I took more responsibilities for her and grooming, though not a favorite of Piper’s, became one of those responsibilities.
“Leave the hair clippings in the backyard,” my mom told me, “The birds can use them for their nests.” So I left this puffy blob of white dog hair in the yard.
Dad came home later that day and looked at the fluffy pile. “Did Piper eat something?” he asked, absent-mindedly. Well, no she hadn’t but his comment must have put some sort of dark juju on that pile of hair because the birds didn’t touch it.
So now finally we are coming to spring here. Nature’s cruel joke of an early spring back in February is almost forgotten. Though people up north are still fighting off winter and we are even warned that temps will once again plunge into the 30s overnight I truly believe (silly me) this is the swan song.
Husky-mix rescue dog Lily has been shedding enough fur to fill several pillows or a small sofa. I brush her hair to try and stay ahead of the dust bunnies.
many little piles like this are drifting around my backyard
Somebody also once told me birds like dryer lint to make their nests soft and comfy. “Won’t they object to the human smell of it?” Silly me.
dryer lint stuffed in the notches of a crape myrtle
Birds don’t much notice a human smell apparently. So when people find baby birds out of their nests and thoughtfully replace them the babies won’t actually be abandoned. This is good to know. Besides which, when babies are out of their nests they generally have not fallen but are fledging and learning to fly. The parents know exactly where they are and are watching.
I know this from experience. My dad also had an English setter when I was little. She was too smart to actually be a hunting dog (you can fetch those dead feathers yourself, she’d often say, so my dad said), but one spring she did find and eat a baby mockingbird out of its nest. From that point on I understood the word vendetta very well. That mockingbird pair would sit in a nearby tree limb waiting for Runt every morning when she’d be let out for her daily ablutions. As soon as she appeared the birds would dive-bomb her, forcing her to race from the back steps to under Dad’s old buick, from there into the unsafe open garage. Somehow she would accomplish what she needed to do then dash back into the house, hoping someone was standing with the backdoor open and not leave her vulnerable to the assaults of angry birds.
Dad loved mockingbirds. He claimed their song was the most beautiful song of all birds. I once challenged him that they really did not have a song of their own, they could only copy other birds’ songs. “Oh no,” he said. “You have to listen carefully to hear it, if you are fortunate enough, you will.”
I do not believe I ever saw Runt (or any other dog) eat another baby bird.
“He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield.” –Psalm 91:4