I Freed a Baby Mockingbird Caught in a Fruit Tree Net

Yesterday after work I went out to water my plants–most are on an automatic irrigation system, but a few trees and vegetables I still water by hand.  Its relaxing, puts me in touch with nature, and helps me unwind at the end of the day.  Being mid-July in Northern California, it is very hot and many of the plants need daily watering, particularly the potted vegetables.

We’ve had mockingbirds raising a family for the last several weeks in our yard.  At first we just heard the chicks in the nest, chirping for more food from mom & dad (mockingbird pairs tend their nest together).  Later, the chicks started leaving the nest, and our cat became Enemy No. 1, with the birds often dive-bombing poor Boomer as he scurried for cover, keeping him away from their precious babies.

So as I was watering, I got to our dwarf peach tree, now sagging under the weight of ripe peaches, a very attractive food for birds, particularly omnivorous mockingbirds.  I lifted the bird net draped over the tree to harvest a peach or two, and noticed the net was weighted down.  I saw tangled in the net a baby mockingbird, looking up at me.  He (I’m assuming; I actually don’t know if it was male or female) was very quiet, I suppose hoping I wouldn’t notice him.  At first I thought, “Oh boy, I’m going to have to put this bird out of its misery.”

But I went to retrieve some scissors anyway; I would try to free the bird if it wasn’t injured.  I grabbed some gloves too, not wanting to get clawed or pecked!  The netting was pretty easy to cut, being lightweight plastic, but for the bird it was more than adequate to keep him bound up.  In fact the bird was tangled very completely, with netting around its neck, wings, legs, claws…it could not have freed itself, nor could its mommy or daddy have freed it, both of which were now over my head, making a racket.

I first cut the bird free from the main net (yes, I now have a big hole in the net).  Then I carefully gripped the bird in my gloved hand, and began carefully cutting away the netting.  By now the chick (really a small bird, fully capable of flight) was chirping loudly and struggling to get away, and almost did once or twice.  The more net I cut away, the freer the bird got, and the more he struggled to get away.  Now if he had gotten away before I had the job completely done, he may have been hampered in flight, his growth could have been affected by the netting still binding him, or worse.

He needed to let me finish the job–then the chick would be completely free.  Right then God spoke to me–He said “that’s just like people; they think they’re free as they start to experience victory, but they need to let Me finish the job.”

I’m happy to report that I was able remove all the netting without losing hold of the bird, and without injuring him.  I set him carefully up on the fence, and the moment I took my hand away he flew off to find mom and dad.

I’m sure baby mockingbird had quite the story to tell.

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