Don’t you forget sometimes? I know I do. I get bored and wrapped up in the mundane dread of getting by and I lose track of the fact that there’s a whole world of living and dying and being born going on around me. A whole world that’s heartbreakingly simple and profound. And, blessedly, sometimes unbearably adorable and fuzzy. Case in point:
Orphaned baby seagulls.
This little guy was found wandering into the parking garage of our building, while a group of our neighbours clustered around not knowing what to do and clutching at their hair every time a car roared up the ramp. (Lost baby seagulls, I have to say, might just be a perfect study in tenacious bravery and vulnerability, the way they try to find their way through a giant, noisy world with determined, tottering little steps.) Frantic phone calls to the SPCA were placed and met with placid advice to usher the baby to a quiet spot where his parents might be able to find and feed him. Such a spot is rather non-existent in our neighbourhood, save for the dog park, which seemed a decidedly bad idea. In the end, the baby was scooped up with a towel and gently plunked into a box. The baby cheeped his confusion and we all looked at each other with wide eyes. Now what?
A couple of people started to cry a little. I remembered something—a sanctuary for wild birds? something—I’d dealt with years ago when we found an injured crow. The box and its cheeping contents were thrust into my hands and, just like that, I had a baby seagull to take care of.
So. You live in a tiny apartment—with three cats, mind you—and you have a baby seagull, of all things, in your care. What to do? What to do? What to do?
I went upstairs with my baby seagull box and announced to Kieran that we have a problem. A frenzy of Googling commenced. Meanwhile, I discreetly sequestered the baby seagull in the bathroom before our dozing cats could get wind of the fact that there was a helpless baby bird in our house and that they may have to change their M.O. from “sloth” to “predator.”
There is, indeed, a Wildlife Rescue Centre (yay!) but they were closed for the evening (eek!). Much to our relief, they had instructions on their voicemail about what to do if you find a baby bird. However, these instructions to simply leave the baby be until morning came into direct conflict with the information we procured from a vet we spoke to over the phone who told us that baby birds need to be fed almost constantly or they’ll start to suffer and weaken. The words “humane euthanization” came up. (Noooooooo!)
Back to Google. Look! Another couple found a baby seagull and kept him on their balcony and co-parented him with the momma seagull. We moved the baby from the bathroom to the balcony, hoping his momma would hear him and come feed him.
We didn’t have any luck with this, although the fact that there were three cats all but flinging themselves against the glass may have had something to do with it. As it got darker, I remembered that there are often bald eagles circling high above our neighbourhood and it seemed that the bathroom was, in fact, the safest spot for our baby after all.
But what about the ominous “needs to be fed almost constantly” advice from the vet? Back to Google, which prescribed a diet of moistened, mashed up cat food. HA! We? Have cat food! If there’s one thing we have in this household, IT’S CAT FOOD. The baby responded to this smelly entree with unrestrained enthusiasm, so it seemed Google might be onto something.
At this point, the bebe also began to respond to me, making little cheeps and peeps when he heard my voice (“Hi, Food Lady. I’m here? In this box? Just in case, you know, you had something for me.”) In fact, he was so surprisingly clever and communicative that our nervousness about him quickly bloomed into sheer delight. By morning, after the clamour of finishing breakfast subsided into contentment, the baby was so eager to be friends with me that I caught trouble from Kieran when he heard us happily chattering away at each other. (Kieran and I were trying to be careful not to imprint the baby to humans. However, I think gulls might be far too clever in this regard, because he had our number almost immediately. He would hear us, politely ask to be let out of his box, and when we opened the lid, he’d slide down it and start chatting us up while pat-pat-patting around the bathroom tiles with his webbed feet.)
Cuteness of note in the above video: whenever he shakes his head, he almost loses his balance and has to rock back on his feet (widdle! webbed! feets!). You can also actually see how much he’s stuffed himself (see how his neck is all rounded?), which is part of the reason why he’s a little off balance. He’s also tired and dozy here, and you can tell by the subdued nature of his peeps and cheeps and the long blinks he can’t help but take once his belly is full. He fell asleep within about three seconds of being put back in his box. [Ed note: the lighting in our bathroom is really dim, hence the darkness of the video. Also? Yes. By the end I devolve into a very high-pitched, goo-goo-woogie-woogie voice that I reserve for fuzzy baby things.]
In the morning after breakfasts one and two, he was off to the Wildlife Rescue Centre, where he was placed in an enclosure with other orphaned gulls. He’s doing well (they gave us a case file so that we can check up on him!) and has already bonded with his other little buddies and will be released into the wild when he’s ready. As it turns out, the Wildlife Rescue folks were neither thrilled nor horrified about the cat food diet, and it seems he mightn’t have starved to death as the other vet had implied. In any case, here’s what they advise if you find a baby bird, which is common around this time of year. Kieran and I are going to thank the Centre with a small donation that we hope will cover some of the costs of taking care of our sweet little friend and by dropping off some of the items on their wish list—it just so happens we have some old towels and other household items we’re looking to get rid of.
And there you have it. One minute, seagulls are a boistrous background noise rising up from the sea wall and the next minute, I’m head over heels in love with one because he’s so tiny and brave and trusting and just so…open to accepting the bumbling efforts of a couple of clueless giants. That, and he was fuzzy. Very, very fuzzy.