Everyone has a story: Caring for birds is a treat
I put the birds – round puffs of white fluff with big eyes – in an unoccupied rabbit cage near the back door. Unfortunately, the one who had arrived with an injury soon died. The other two – a male and a female that I named Clem and Slider, respectively – thrived on bits of cat food that I gave them several times a day, along with water from an account- drops. I kept the cage door locked to keep them safe until they learned how to fly.
In about a month they had grown enough feathers to practice flying, so I left the cage door open. When I was outside, they often landed on my head and shoulders, and I quickly learned to wear leather gloves to protect me from their sharp talons whenever I needed to handle them. They soon got into the habit of regularly gliding towards our woods before returning to the comfort of the room and board I still provided.
My parents, older sister and I went on a two-week family vacation at the end of August, leaving my much older brother, who worked at the gas station, with instructions to feed the birds every day while I was away. He promised me he would, but his work and social life apparently conspired to negate any good intentions.
I was quite upset when we got home to find that Clem and Slider had left the coop for good, once the catering service they had been enjoying had come to an abrupt end. I searched in vain all around our property and never saw them again.
A few days after our return, my father was back at work reading the logs Freeman’s staff had produced in his absence. In a recent edition there was a large photo of a young falcon perched on top of a cat’s head, the two animals being held by a young man named Gary who lived in the village of Dousman, about 10 miles east. west of our house.