It seems inconceivable that a mere earthbound creature can teach a budding aeronautical genius to fly. But that is one of the tasks allotted to me following a chance encounter with a stranded fledgling Common Myna bird.
In our need to protect ourselves from the damage storms can inflict it is easy to overlook the plight of helpless wildlife that lives with us in our daily lives. Trees provide refuge and homes for many creatures and like our own homes they are subjected to the ravages of wind and rain which can tear them limb from limb. This is, of course, all a part of the natural world and unless you accidentally come across a stranded creature, as I did, you will likely be unaware of the loss of wildlife in a big storm.
I nearly trod on a helpless little bird which looked to all the world like a leaf in the road. She must have been blown out of her nest and she may have had brothers and sisters for all I know. Her parents hadn’t found her and she lay motionless. I thought she was dead but when I picked her up there were signs of life. I cradled her in my hand and carried her home and made a little ‘state of the art’ nest where she lay quietly for several hours. She appeared uninjured, just exhausted and weak. I prepared a ‘cordon bleu’ meal of overripe banana and water which I administered drop by drop via a syringe.
She recovered slowly and by the second day she was eating well, chuntering away and quite lively. It didn’t take long to think of a name for her and I added some freshly cooked sweetcorn to ‘Myn’s’ diet which went down very well but was quickly regurgitated. So that was taken off the menu and replaced by rice and sweet mango successfully. Feeding time was a frantic affair and an almost continual process for many days as she was growing fast. A bird’s food processing system is so quick it seems to go in one end and out the other without stopping on the way. A slight exaggeration maybe but not far from the truth.
Within a couple of days she used all her powers of persuasion to let me know that she wanted to have a go at climbing trees and hopping around the garden. I worked it out fairly quickly when I realised that the squawking, impressions of being hungry and abortive attempts to fly, culminating in many crash landings were not necessarily signs of hunger. They were often signs of impatience and a youthful desire for independence.
I believe it takes between 20 and 30 days from hatching until Mynas can fly and become independent so it wasn’t long before Myn was enrolled in my beginner’s course for trainee pilots. On her makeshift perch above the grass runway her lungs nearly burst with the screeching as she revved up her engine to full throttle. All was set and with wings flapping and all controls checked she took off. In her haste couple with my cry of ‘chocks away’ she forgot to release her grip on the perch and nosedived into the runway. There were a few more crash landings but no letup in persistence.
Despite the many amusing episodes I could only admire her tenacity and never resorted to laughter. Deep down I knew that even at this young age she was far more accomplished than I could ever dream of. I doubt I would even have had as much success as Icarus!
Someone once asked what I would do if a bird shit on my head. I said that I probably wouldn’t go out with her again but this chick is far too cute to be that cruel.
Now an accomplished aviator and free as a bird (sometimes thinking she’s a human) she comes and goes as she pleases. Mynas are scavengers so my food usually tastes better and is often stolen from under my nose.