So I went to Food Lion today, to get strawberry shortcake cups, since you always wind up with the wrong number of cups for the amount of berries and cream, and as I was headed out, I saw a pitiable sight. A female sparrow had become trapped in the shopping cart bay, a large, three walled area attached to the front of the store, with big plate glass windows on three sides and the third open to the air. The bird had flown in, all the way to the end, and was hopping on the window ledge, beating itself futiley against the glass and trying to get out.
Can’t let that sort of thing go. The poor bird was panting, beak gaping open, shedding down along the windows, and obviously distraught. Sure, non-native sparrows are vermin, and I can’t say I’d have stopped for a starling, but…well…it wasn’t the specific bird’s fault that it edged out native species, and it was obviously unhappy, and despite my gruff exterior, I have the bleeding heart of an absolute sap.
Besides, nobody should die like that. There’s a certain dignity to being eaten by predators that is totally lacking in being eaten by the shopping cart bay of Food Lion.
Thus the staff of Food Lion was treated to the sight of a stocky woman wiggling, cursing, between the tightly spaced rows of carts,* past and partially over another cart, and finally, balancing grimly on one leg, herding the sparrow.
Unfortunately, I did not possess a net, or any other such useful bird catching device, and I am wary of catching birds with my hands, for fear of hurting their little wings. What I had was a plastic bag, a lemon, and a sheet of shortcake cups. Lemon was discarded right away. Plastic bag, with a little more thought, also discarded. Wasn’t sure if I could get the bird in, or if I could get it out again if I did. That left–SHORTCAKE TO THE RESCUE!
So, squished sideways and hopping on one leg (which was all I could fit between wall and cart) a plastic bag with a lemon in it dangling from my teeth (if it was on my wrist, I was afraid I’d accidentally whack the bird) I herded the bird with the sheet of shortcake, blocking its attempts to hop back into the bay, and eventually getting it far enough toward the exit that I could manuever my body into place as a wall. Still gasping, and shedding more tiny breast feathers, the bird perched momentarily on the edge of the shortcake, looking bedraggled, long enough for me to make a final, awkward lunge past the cart blockade and into open air. The bird threw itself into the air, and last I saw it, it was into a nearby tree and hopefully as long and happy a life as sparrows are likely to get.
I walked into the parking lot with my battered shortcake, head held high, and deliberately did not look behind me to the enormous plate glass windows leading into the Food Lion, where, god willing, the people working the counters had NOT gathered for a welcome insanity break in their day.
And that was my good deed for the month.
*At least one of which took sufficient liberties that it damn well better call me later.
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