Bammy, though, was a world-class flier. He would fly full speed at this decorative room divider that had angled slats 4 inches apart. He'd pull his wings closed for a split-second on one side and emerge and reopen his wings on the other. I used to expect he'd meet his end at that divider, that we'd find his body on one side and his wings on the other, but it was a combination of old age and pneumonia that did him in when he was nearly 12.
All these years later, we'll still occasionally find some little reminder of him, like a peanut or some small treasure Bammy had stolen and tucked deep between the pages of a book. Sometimes, when I'm visiting my folks, I'll be at the bathroom mirror and I can almost feel Bammy's presence, as he would accompany me there every morning to groom himself while I fixed my hair. I don't know that I've ever heard that sassy blue jay yell without thinking of him. He was this amazing, intelligent creature that we could've so easily missed out on getting to know.
Every spring I'm reminded of my old bird friends when I hear someone talking about having found a baby bird and not knowing what to do. Often, the bird isn't really abandoned, but only appears to be; yet if it actually is, there's much to consider. One thing is that according to West Virginia Code 20-2-51 regarding the legalities of possessing a native wild animal, "The director may issue a permit to a person to keep and maintain in captivity as a pet," but only as long as the wild animal or wild bird "has been acquired from a commercial dealer or during the legal open season."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is even tougher: "You must release all releasable recuperated birds to the wild as soon as seasonal conditions allow. Birds may not be held for more than 180 days."
Thankfully, we knew none of this when we raised those birds, and I kind of doubt it would've stopped us if we had.
For those who find themselves faced with having to decide between attempting to rescue a foundling or leaving it to face nature's wrath, I've cobbled together some tips that could help the noble scofflaws. Visit blogs.wvgazette.com/karinfuller.
Reach Karin Fuller at karinful...@gmail.com.