I have never managed to save one, not that I haven’t tried. All my life I have discovered fledglings, either crowded out of the nest or cast out, or injured in the attempt to gain instant knowledge of flight. As a child it was neighborhood cats who preyed upon nestlings situated high above the ground, but with three dogs in our yard, cats don’t pose a problem here.
I found another yesterday, quite by accident. Remanding garden tools to their shed, I spotted movement in the grass under a rough-hewn wooden skid. Moving closer, a diminutive red-tinged crown appeared, rallying a hearty twitter of distress. Fishing the little one gingerly from under the skid, I inspected it, only to discover a chafed, raw spot adjacent to a left wing. The appendage appeared possibly damaged as well, though the little creature clung mightily with tiny sharp toenails to an extended finger.
I know my track record in such matters, and gently placed the little bird back where I found it, praying for a miracle. Frankly by morning I had forgotten the animal, in a rush to get our big chocolate Lab to the vet for a fractured tooth extraction. Later upon my return to search for something in the tool shed, I spotted the wee one. Mouth gaping wide open, it again perched upon my flesh. Remembering a water bottle I had left in the shed the day before, I dropped a minuscule amount into the chick’s yawning mouth. Almost immediately, its spirit took flight. Eyes glazing over, it folded that precious newly-minted body into death.
I dug a hole in my garden, placing the tiny carcass between two large leaves. Murmuring a blessing, a few silent tears glided down my cheeks to soak into turf below. Many thoughts crossed my mind, among them the ease with which most creatures release their hold on life when it no longer seems tenable. That, and the fragility of existence, itself. Covering the makeshift grave with earth and mulch, I pressed the damp soil down firmly but gently with my foot, lest something attempt to dig it up in the night.