Last night I left the public library after an enjoyable and productive meeting, on my way to an after-meeting dinner. When I left the building, I found my colleagues gathered in the parking lot, fretting over the fate of a young gull that had fallen from its nest. Residents of nearby apartments stopped to offer comments, and passers-by also contributed to the conversation.
This is July on Cape Ann, where gulls are squawking protectively over their nests and dive-bombing any human or other prospective predator who might come near. The problem here, however, is that the fledgling, even too young to be a fledgling, has fallen out of the protective nest. But this fledgling is only one of several that we and others will encounter on sidewalks, back yards, tops of cars, and parking lots.
We humans gathered and fretted and discussed, and this is what we came up with. Do not touch the bird. (We already knew that.) Unfortunately, a little girl didn't know this and a few days earlier picked one up, put it in her purse, and took it home. The bird will die. A neighbor who came out to offer advice pointed out that fledglings, and even younger ones, will survive this danger of being ground-bound as long as the parents can feed it and drive off predators. Considering the location, the brick walk by a library, in a city with a leash law and bird-rescue volunteers, the young bird could very well survive.
Reluctant, but with increasing confidence, we scattered to our cars and headed out. On my way home after supper the stranded baby gull got me thinking of the various birds I've encountered in India, and, of course, one thought led to another, and I now have a burgeoning story about Anita Ray and a fortune-telling parrot.
I also have a clearer conscience because I emailed a bird rehabber about the gull, and if anything can be done, she will do it. Stories and their inspiration came from all sorts of experiences. The key is to be ready for them.