What I Wouldn’t Do for a Snickers

I try to always learn from my mistakes. Really. This is why this time, I didn’t call the Mister. (So impersonal!) This time I walked into the house and simply stated, “We have a problem.”

To which he responded, “What the hell is that?!”

Snickers, just met

With a long-suffering sigh I said, “A baby bird. Obviously. He needs my help so I had to bring him home. My hands were tied!” My hands are often tied, just in case you’re new here.

“I know what it is,” he said. “I meant what is it doing in your hand and inside our house?”

It’s like he missed the whole part about the baby bird needing me and my hands being tied. Like all good stories, I began at the beginning.

I was on my way to the pharmacy, approaching a 3-way Stop-Sign intersection. I made my stop and thought I saw something on the ground. I looked behind me and saw a car in the distance, so I took the opportunity to reverse a bit to see what it was. It was a bird.

Seconds later, when the car behind me pulled up–young guy, tattooed sleeves–I walked up to him and explained the situation. “I’m going to move it off the road,” I said. “I shouldn’t take a minute.” Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed another car stop.

He mumbled something in typical young guy fashion as I ran over to shoo it, only to see it was a very young bird–mostly fuzz and a few feathers. You can’t shoo something that can’t walk! As I got closer, a boy Mikey’s age ran over to pick up the bird–or at least tried to if his motions to pick up the bird while simultaneously recoiling in horror were any indication. I debated letting him do it, maybe even helping him out, thinking it would be a great opportunity for the boy to get in touch with nature. Or whatever.

Then the boy’s mother, who was parked in the middle of the road with her son’s car door wide open, leaned back and at the top of her voice screamed, “¡Agárralo!” (Translation: Grab it!)

I objected to her tone. The tone that suggested we were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and before us lay the last crossbow known to man. I thought if she wanted the bird so much (as a pet, I’m assuming), she should have pulled her car to the side of the road and pick it up herself, since her son was clearly terrified of being pecked to death.

Then she screamed “¡Agárralo!” again, but in that distinctive way Hispanic mothers have, mine included, where they elongate the accented syllable with a ferocious roar until all they have left is a gasp of air with which to spit out the rest of the word. So, instead of ‘¡Agárralo!’ it was more like ‘¡Agáaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…rralo!’.

I leaned over and plucked the bird from the ground without sparing the woman another glance. I couldn’t! By this point, my side of the Stop-Sign intersection was 4 cars deep. The tattooed boy knew what I was doing, so he was patient. The car behind him had two women with enormous 1980s bangs. They were not as understanding as I climbed into a plant border with trees and laid the baby bird down among the leaves. Curious, I thought, that those women should be so rushed for time when their hair was running 30 years behind.

Snickers, face

I got in my car, put it in drive, and then immediately pulled over to the side of the road and went to look for the bird. I saw images of him being torn apart by cats! I took him home to call animal control so they could pick him up and rehabilitate/release.

“So you see,” I said to the Mister as I finished my story. “We aren’t keeping the bird. We’re just holding it until animal control gets here in a couple of hours.”

Animal Control arrived two hours later. I handed over the bird, which at this point I had in Buttercup’s special carrier with some seed. I watched the agent walked away with my little rescued friend in the palm of his hand. “Out of curiosity,” I asked. “What will you do with the bird?”

“Honestly? We’ll put it down. We don’t have the man-power or the resources to care for another wild animal.”

I thought about the Mister inside and how he didn’t want another pet. I thought about how I told him I wasn’t bringing home another stray. “Can I keep it and take care of it?”

At least I thought about it.

“Well, sure,” the agent said. “I mean, I figured you would be a good person to give it a try seeing that you have a special carrier. For your bird. You, uh, seem like a bird person.”

Snickers, side

Ten seconds later I was back inside the house with the bird in my hand. “We have another problem,” I called out.

“What is it this time, Doctor Dolittle?”

“Would you believe my hands were tied, again?”


Snickers, bottle

And that’s how I came to bottle feed a baby bird on a Saturday night. Mikey named him/her Snickers, which I think is perfect. I took Snickers to a bird farm and they said he/she will need to be bottle fed for at least another 3-4 weeks. After that, we can wean him and get him ready for release. We aren’t sure if he is a pigeon or a mourning dove, and we won’t have a definitive answer for weeks. They’re in the same family, Columbidae, so they look very similar when young.

Only I touch the bird, much to Mikey and Nico’s disappointment. I think it’s safer, even though we had the bird checked and it’s healthy. Also, I don’t want Snickers too accustomed to humans since we’ll be releasing him in a month. Even then, if everything I have read is true, Snickers will return to visit us often.

As for the Mister, as I type this he is checking on Snickers, the bird he didn’t want.

Snickers Fuzzy Head

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


    • Shannon Kruger says

      Totally snorted into my coffee when I read this and agree whole heartedly – best line ever, Jules. Well, except, maybe the mister calling you Dr. Doolittle ’cause that was pretty awesome too.

  1. says

    Oh my gosh! Was that Hispanic woman going to eat it?
    So glad it has found sanctuary with the ‘bird woman’. BTW, what are you feeding it?

  2. says

    My husband just asked me why I was laughing and after I explained this story to him, I added that it is a good thing you and I aren’t neighbors as we would be bringing home all the strays and orphaned animals. He agreed! Has Buttercup seen Snickers?

  3. t says

    You are a good bird!

    And I love this line, ‘Curious, I thought, that those women should be so rushed for time when their hair was running 30 years behind.’

  4. Jenn says

    Good for you!

    When I was in college we rescued a baby Carolina wren. We hand fed it, and it lived for a time in our screened porch. Eventually, when I came home from class, it would fly to me and sit on my shoulder. I got pretty attached to that bird. We did take it to be released at a bird sanctuary.

    • says

      I’m researching bird sanctuaries so that I can do the same. It’s not that I don’t want to keep Snickers, but he really does deserve to be back in the wild.

  5. Susan G says

    Not sure how many times I’ve said this here but this is my favorite post ever! I laughed. I cried. You are an amazing writer and an outstanding person.

  6. Alicia says

    This is the future for my fiance and I. He’ll pretend he doesn’t care…but I know he does! We recently tried to take in a “stray” cat that totally has a home!

  7. says

    This post made me laugh. A couple weeks ago, my husband arrived home from work to the same “we have a problem”. It was a lost parakeet. This was also the day that we had a giant delivery from Ikea and I decided that I could probably assemble everything before he got home. I was wrong. So boxes everywhere. And a bird.

  8. Lisa in Seattle says

    A fantastic story, and what great pictures! Hello, little dinosaur.

    Because there is still a lot of conflicting and just plain erroneous info out there, I’m going to share this help-I-found-a-baby-bird FAQ from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Highlights: No, the parents won’t smell you on the baby and abandon it. Don’t take it home and try to raise it (sorry!). How to tell a fledgling (just trying my wings!) from a nestling (halp! gravity!). Look straight up and see if you can locate its nest to put it back. If not, put it as high up as you can as near to where it fell as possible – the parents will happily feed and care for it. If you can fashion a makeshift nest and attach it to the tree, go for it.

    By golly, Jules, we’ll have you on the Audubon Society Board of Directors in no time!

    • says

      He does look like a dinosaur!

      Thank you SO much for the link. I really appreciate you taking the time to share it. :) I read that this weekend as I was waiting for animal control, but it’s still good to have handy if anyone runs into the same situation. Unfortunately, the only trees in the area I found the bird were palm trees on private property. I’m not sure what that was about. I didn’t think they nested in palm trees. In our area, that’s mainly woodpecker territory. I was actually on that property when I placed Snickers on the leaves.

      I read that if you can’t reach the nest then you should fashion one out of a basket, place it in lower branches, and then parents can then feed the bird that way. The only way for me to attach the nest to the palm tree was with a nail and hammer, and I did not feel comfortable doing that. I guess I could have knocked on the door, but I’m too shy to ask someone if I can hammer a basket into their tree.

      Snickers is a nestling. He absolutely failed the perch test and can’t really walk. Today he did ok, sort of scooting/wobbling but he still can’t perch. We had terrible winds on the day I sound Snickers (and the day before) so I think his nest came apart or he fell out. At least that’s what the pigeon/dove sites I visited suggested. Apparently pigeon/dove nests aren’t built to withstand the elements? Not sure about that–I found it hard to believe, honestly.

      I also did some research on pigeons/doves, since that’s what Snickers is. Thankfully, pigeons/doves are crop feeders, so I don’t have to feed him every 15-30 minutes. I just have to wait until his crop empties, and that’s about every 3 hours. MUCH more doable.

      Are you an Audubon Society member? If so, that’s pretty darn cool. :)

  9. Amanda B says

    Jules, I am a long time reader but an infrequent commenter but this post brought it out of me. You could write a book. Your writing is always so clever and funny and you make the littlest things so interesting! And those pictures are amazing! I think it’s awesome that you brought him/her home and I hope for the best for Snickers! Love it!

  10. Torey says

    My sister once had a full grown ring necked dove land right next to her in my parents’ backyard. It was obviously tame. She had a parakeet as a kid and is definitely a bird person. Needless to say the ring necked dove found a new home with my sister/folks for a while. Eventually they gave it to another bird person that could give it more time/attention. But the moral of the story is that doves are easily tamed and probably will always be pets once they are hand raised.

  11. Connie says

    I was in a similar situation a number of years ago, put the bird I had spotted on the side of the road on the floor of my front passenger seat in a shoebox I found, turned the heat on low (bird was shivering), and just began driving home, with no idea of what I was going to do with this bird when I got there. Fortunately, I was driving on the 210 and spotted a sign for http://wildlifewaystation.org/ at a freeway exit (I think it’s Osborne) and immediately got off the freeway and took the bird there. Though I don’t think birds are necessarily their main gig, they kindly accepted the bird and a donation; since then my children (not in existence yet at the time of the bird incident) have sponsored animals at Wildlife Waystation through their school.

  12. Steph says

    I think this is my favourite of your posts! You made me laugh out loud in my quiet office.

    Some pigeons decided to get into my loft and create a home there (oh my god, the MESS!). We had someone coming to block up the hole they were using to get in and out, so we had to go in and shoo them out, and found a nest with a tiny baby – http://imgur.com/a/O9hl1.

    My parents wouldn’t let me keep it (boo!) so I gave it a bath (it had mites), dried it and warmed it up, then took it to a shelter. I felt bad about removing it from its nest, but we then discovered that in the time between emptying the loft and the guy coming to block up the hole (less than 2 days), the adult pigeons had got back in and laid another egg – I don’t think there’d ever have been a ‘good’ time to remove them.

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