But he pulled a Louie nonetheless.
We were hiking last evening in a downpour – not a soul at the wilderness park aside from us, a white egret, a great blue heron, puddle-loving ducks and froggies everywhere.
So we were coming from the backside, hiking along the flooded vineyard trail– and I do mean flooded– when Jake vanished behind a copse of stunted creosote bushes. I kept walking, but he didn’t follow. I turned back to look for him and saw him standing behind the bushes, front feet spread apart, staring at something on the ground.
I called. He didn’t come. I called. He didn’t come. He continued to stare at whatever was between his front feet, so I turned around to get a closer look. As I approached, he stepped away from the thing and ran to me, than ran back and stood above it again, his front feet spread apart.
From where I stood, fifteen feet away, the thing looked like a dead bird, on it’s stomach, wings spread out, about the size of a crow. I figured it had been killed by a hawk and I worried Jake might grab it and run off, but instead he just stared at me. As I picked my way through the brush, thinking I’d have to leash him to get him away from the dead bird, he nudged it with his nose. Lo and behold, it gave a weak flap and lifted its head.
Jake remained totally still as I approached, one big front foot on each side of the bird. I realized the thing wasn’t a crow, it was a baby bird, but the biggest damn baby bird I’d ever seen. It was soaked to the skin, cold as ice and weak as a… well, as a baby bird. Jake didn’t move while I picked the bird up, folded its wings back together and stuck it under my jacket.
The minute Jake saw me tuck the bird safely away, he trotted off down the trail, running back every minute or so to sniff at me before heading off again.
I said, “Jake, we have to go back to the car and take care of this bird.”
He got that. I know for sure he understands the words ‘go’, ‘car’, and ‘bird’ because we have birds at home.
I felt the bird settling against my abdomen. It didn’t move during the 25 minutes it took to make it back to the car, so before I buckled my seat belt, I checked to make sure it was alive. It looked up at me, the funniest looking baby bird I’d ever seen.
It was now 5:35 p.m. and the bird rescue place closed at 6 p.m. We were 15 minutes away in good traffic and traffic sucked just then, but we made it with 5 minutes to spare. I walked into the office, reached under my wet jacket, and pulled out the bird.
There was a tech behind the counter. Her eyes opened wide. “Ooooooh,” she said. She took him from me and ran to the back. ”Look! Look! Look!” she yelled to the folks back there. I didn’t know what she was yelling about. I figured it was just some weird big baby bird.
It was a baby great blue heron. How totally cool! Mostly cool that Jake found him, kinda cool that I saved him, but just plain cool. I can now say I’ve held a great blue heron baby and it pooped on my sweater.
(The photo is a stock photo – it was raining so hard I left my phone behind, but yup, that’s the bird!)