The Rose and the Birds
The following morning Charles was back at my cup so I just held my hand over it.
Charles hopped around a little looking the situation over and then hopped up on
the back of my hand and started hopping up and down pecking my hand. It was
obvious he was angry about getting his morning coffee cut off.
Another human trait that we had no idea little birds had.
We found out one morning what a mating call was for Charles. It was warm so we had the windows open (with good screens in place) and Charles was perched on the window sill. Up to this time Charles had not made much of any sounds and we were not in the living room at the time. I was back in my den and Rose was in the kitchen and it was so loud I jumped up and ran down the hall to the living room. At first I thought it was Rose screaming and Rose met me at the end of the hall in the living room with her eyes wide. We looked over at Charles and he let out another call. It was so loud it echoed all through the house. I even thought it could brake glass it was so loud. It was amazing that such a tinny bird could make a sound that loud. At times Charles would make his call but he knew somehow to always do it at the window.
One day when he was making his window rattling call a small brown bird showed up
at the window. This scared Charles and he retreated up to the safety of his
rafters and he was quiet and hiding behind a beam and peaking around the beam to
see if the little brown bird was still on the window sill. He had called up a
female Bunting, but when she showed up, it scared him into retreating to his
One day we heard a rustling of paper and we searched all over for the origin of
the noise until we heard it down inside the paper bag of trash next to the
kitchen counter. It was Charles, way down in the bottom. I pulled paper and
trash out to see Charles down in the bottom catching ants. He was not eating
them, he was just killing them. He did it so fast that we had to watch him
carefully to see what he was doing. He grabbed an ant in his beak and with one
foot, break the ant in half and then he just dropped the other half. We watched
for a while until there were no more ants in the bag and Rose lifted Charles out
and we removed the trash to look and all that was left were halves of ants. I
never heard of a bird doing this. I thought animals only killed for either food
or territory and neither seemed to apply here.
Then we remembered the nest with the dead baby bird in it that Charles had
fallen (or jumped ) out of. Could Charles have remembered the ants in his nest? Maybe
he was bitten, we donít know, nor do we know what happen to the parents. A
hawk or owl, we just donít know. But we do know that whenever Charles sees an
ant he kills it and will not eat one. Charles could spot an ant on the floor
from his perch on the rafters and fly down to kill just one ant. It was obvious
he hated them.
You are not suppose to keep a wild bird as a pet but we had become so attached
to Charles that we could not turn him loose to the wild even though we also knew
it would be impossible to get him a mate. We were torn between letting him go
out on his own and maybe mate and have more Indigo Buntings in the area and
keeping him in the house with us as a pet.
We kept him for several years until he died. We donít know if it was the food
we were giving him or what. Loosing Charles was like loosing a family member. It
saddened us so much we decided not to try to raise any more wild birds. Not
because we didnít want to help them but it was just too easy to become
attached to some and then to loose them was too hard.
Rose died on 3/28/2003 of ALS (Lou Gehrigís disease) Even though I know the
world is a better place because she was here and that there are for sure, more
birds on this earth because of her loving care of distressed baby birds, it is
still a lesser place now that she is gone.
Rose drew two pensile sketches of the quail, which I have framed and keep on my
wall. It reminds me that every single person on earth can in some way make this
world a little better place to live. As ďThe RoseĒ did.
M. Fitzcharles III