Sunday, December 05, 2004

This is for "Da Boids"

I first heard the name during another one of those endless budget hearings I attended year after year (after year), in case someone asked Da Boss any questions about our own requests. He had no problem answering the kinds of questions one bureaucrat asks another, but when it got down to bean-counting stuff . . . well, that’s why I was there in case he was ever asked something couldn’t bee-ess his way through.

Since the hearings always ran way over time and always scheduled (for some unknown reason) according to the departments’ account numbers, for more years than I care to remember I had the chance to hear the tail end of the previous department’s presentation which, like our own, was the money requested through us — meaning various city agencies — by private, not-for-profit organizations. And that year, something named BEAKS made its first-ever request.

BEAKS? Bird Emergency Aid and Kare Sanctuary??

Right away I mentally tagged it as a fruit-loop group, and was surprised . . . no, shocked, because it was a very tight budget year — weren’t they all but this one was particularly so — when the city approved their request for a couple of thousand dollars. Chump change in the much larger scheme of things, but . . . parakeets?

Every year after that BEAKS received a small appropriation from the city, Most of their funding came through small donations, but those combined with the two or three thousand dollars the city kicked in helped them leverage grants from foundations.

It wasn’t until later, after an oil spill, that I discovered what it is that BEAKS actually does.

No matter how small or big, if there’s a wild bird of any kind hurt or in trouble, contact BEAKS. They’ll take the bird, give it whatever attention it needs and once it’s again healthy, release it back into the wild. If, however, it is impossible for the bird to survive on its own, it will fostered out to one of their volunteers or remain there, at BEAKS, for the rest of its life.

I’m retired now. (I took an early-out window!) And since, I've had the opportunity to see BEAKS a time or two. Like when a few years back a blue jay flew down out of a tree and sat on Da Kid’s head singing. (Yes, blue jays can sing.)

It didn’t take us long to figure out as it happily hopped from heads to shoulders to fingers, that it had become domesticated. And looking at its condition, it was obvious that it wasn’t doing very well.

So, I called BEAKS and asked what to do. Cindy Mosling, the director, said to bring it in.

(They'd pick it up, she said, but it might take a few days before they could get here. I had Lab retreivers who were extremely "bird friendly," and already losing their minds 'cause Da Boid was caged in Da Kid's bedroom. Need I say more?)

They’d try to rehab it but in all likelihood, although still very young, it was probably already too old and had become entirely dependent on people for its survival.

I drove over (and it’s a good distance) with Da Kid in the passenger seat, Da Boid perched on his finger the whole way, opening and closing its wings, pretending it was flying in the air shooting through the car’s air conditioning vent it faced.

I finally found the place.

Okay, I don’t have a sense of direction. I admit it. But BEAKS doesn’t advertise its location. You either already know where it is, they tell you how to find where they are, or you don’t know.

So, after driving X-point-X miles down _______ road, I finally spotted the mailbox I’d missed a couple of times going back and forth, forth and back. Then, after driving X-point-X miles down a dirt back road getting deeper and deeper into Northeast Florida "jungle," I spotted the tiny wooden sign that said, BEAKS and turned in.

With the small farm house (which I found out later is used as an office) and the pond with wild ducks and geese, I thought I’d pulled onto someone’s farm. That is, until as I drove in further and noticed that the ducks and geese were all crippled: missing a leg, a wing; beak deformities . . . And then there were these net-draped trees on the left behind the privacy fence, filled with turkey buzzards.

I’m pretty sure they were turkey buzzards. I’m not really sure that they were turkey buzzards, but they were big, dark and exceedingly ugly. I was guessing, okay?

From within the wooden structures under the netted trees, a cacophony of chirps, chips, cheeps, squawks and caws resounded.

There were other net-draped trees, wooden structures, and privacy fences, too. I had (and have) no idea what was there, but after seeing the ducks and geese . . . Da Kid and I left Da Boid with the volunteer who greeted us.
I also left a check.
"Why Doyle," I’m sure you’re asking, "have you subjected us to this? You must have a reason for boring us half to sleep, yes?"

Of course I do.

This is "Mrs. Grinch" . . .

"Mrs. Grinch"

This is a picture of "Mrs. Grinch," returned to health, as she was being released back to the wild . . .

What was that exceedingly ugly bird? An immature American Bald Eagle.

Long may she fly.


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