Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Animal Rescue: Utah Edition

It was a bird.

Flapping frantically, going nowhere. I stepped toward it so I could, in all my bird knowledge glory, identify just what in hell was wrong with the beautiful grey bird. That's when a flash of black fur zig-zagged by me like a bolt of lightning. Black Lightning with the avacado-sized paws was headed straight toward the stranded bird.

As Max neared the little bird it flapped for all it was worth, eyes open so wide I could see the terror emanating from my vantagepoint 20 feet away. Apparently, so could Max. He stopped short so fast his bum thunked (THUNK!) to the grass in our front yard. Scared but intrigued, he lifted a questioning paw toward the bird, as if trying to shake hands for a treat.
"Max! No!" I shouted as the proffered paw sent the bird into hysterics once again. And then I saw it. The green netting tangled around the bird's delicate body.

"What?" He shouted from somewhere deep inside our home.
"Come! Now! And bring scissors!" I announced like an actor on Grey's Anatomy. Scissors! STAT!

To my husband's credit, considering the regularity with which he ignores my usual pleas, (Seerge! Bring me a glass of wine! Seeerge! Turn off the air conditioner) he promptly appeared, crossing our lawn carrying a pair of scissors (the dangerous way, I might add).
"What is it?" He asked.
Frozen, I could only point at the frantic little bird, flapping around in a desperate bid for life, its little heart pumping so wildly it looked as if it might beat its way right out of the tiny bird chest.
"Shit. What's that green stuff?"
"It looks like somebody used it to help landscape the grass or something." I answered.

"It's okay little one." I whispered to the bird as I bent down for a closer look. It was green netting, similar to the kind used to catch a fish. Except this was sharp plastic. The stuff was poking out from the ground in our side yard. The little bird had become so entangled it could barely breathe.

We examined our options.
"I don't want to pull the net out of the ground... or cut it", I told Serge. "The bird could fly away still tangled up.

My husband-cum-Animal Control Officer issued a firm STAY in Max's direction then crouched down next to the bird.
"Oh shit. It's all wrapped around its little neck."

I began to cry.

It's this thing I have for birds. I don't know what it is. I just dig them. Last year in Brooklyn I looked out our back window and saw Avacado Paws circling and sniffing a particular area in the yard. I darted over to prevent him from eating the rotten item I was sure he'd sniffed out. Instead of the smelly, old Chinese takeout container I expected, I found a tiny, fluffy bird mewling and rolling about in the dirt beneath the tree. I looked upward. At the top of the tree was the nest the baby had fallen from. I didn't know what to do. I watched and waited all day... No Momma bird came to claim her fallen baby. So I scooped up the bird in a cereal bowl and brought it inside. I tore paper towels into the bowl and nestled the bird down amongst the shreds.

It lasted a day. Then died. I cried then too. Was inconsolable. Figured I'd probably killed it by touching it. But I had tried not to touch it, just nestle it in my cereal bowl nest.

I thought of that baby bird as I watched my husband try to snip this bird free from the plastic prison. He managed to cut the net away from its little claw legs but it was still wrapped tightly around the delicate bird neck.

In desperation I picked up the bird with one hand and began stroking its puffy little chest with the finger of another. It immediately relaxed its wings and clamped its itty-bitty bird beak around my index finger. Just like a baby sucking a thumb! I let it clamp the finger betwixt its beak, kind of like someone biting down on strip of leather during a seizure to avoid biting off their tongue... and I continued stroking its downy chest. Within minutes Dr. Serge was able to dig between the feathers of its neck and locate the thread of the net.
"I don't think the net broke its skin." he said.
I looked at my sweet husband, his tongue clenched between his teeth in concentration as he labored intently on this little bird.
"I just gotta...(tiny scissor snips) cut the net.. (more snips) not the neck."
"Careful." I whispered in between the idiotic clucking noises I was making in some ridiculous attempt to calm the bird.

"There! Got it!"

I sat the net-free bird back down on the ground and watched as it shook its quarter-sized head as if to clear away the recent trauma and then promptly skittered away. Free to fly.