Backyard Carnage

This was almost the very first Teachbad post to have nothing whatsoever to do with teaching. So as not to break with tradition, I will add an addendum here at the beginning:

All students can be successful if teachers raise the bar. OK?

I’d also like to say that I’m glad it’s only in the high 80s here in DC today. On Saturday it was 105. Authorities recommended that we drink water and try to stay cool. I was sure that if I heard this advice or the phrase “beat the heat” one more time I might hurt some people. Lots of ‘em.

On to the Carnage…

On Friday I went out to water the garden. As I walked around the side of the house to the hose I saw a small bird. It was a robin that had apparently fallen out of the nest. Or maybe he just got angry and stormed off, forgetting that he hadn’t yet developed the capacity for flight. Maybe he was caught smoking and got kicked out. I don’t know and I didn’t ask.

He (I’ll assume it was a male) was hiding in a little pile of dead leaves by the fence. It was then that I noticed I had drawn the attention of two adult robins. They seemed pissed. I tried to help. I got out a ladder and looked for the nest. Nothing. He must have stormed out and then walked a bit, all full of youthful angst and brooding about what fuckin’ assholes his parents are.

I got out a shovel and dug up a worm. I didn’t chew it up for him but dangled it in front of its mouth. Nothing. Would he have eaten the worm if I had chewed it up and spit it into his mouth? It’s a question that will haunt me. Then, I’m not sure why, I reached down and tried to pick the bird up. I don’t think it really mattered to the adult robins why I was doing this. They began to chatter loudly and dive-bomb my position. If this was about the smoking, the parents seem to have cooled off and wanted their son back. I retreated from my position and the baby robin scuttled away to a corner between the deck and the sand box. I went inside.

I had a feeling this wouldn’t end well for the birds, the flightless bird trapped on the ground in particular.

The adult robins continued their vigil/rescue operation for the rest of the day. Every time I would go outside they would start in on me but I couldn’t find the bird anymore. I kept the dog inside.

The next morning I thought about the bird but saw nothing and didn’t really look. Around noon I went to the bathroom as I always do. At just the right moment I happened to look out the bathroom window into the back yard. A squirrel-sized rat was racing from the corner in the back of the back yard near the alley at a diagonal and headed for the tomato plants. I’m happy to say I don’t see too many rats here and I’ve never seen one in the middle of the day in the middle of my yard. Hot on its tail were the two adult robins and about four sparrows. The birds had united across species to face a common enemy. Angry Birds, indeed.

In the rat’s mouth was, of course, the baby robin; about to be eaten alive in my garden. “That’s gotta suck”, I thought. It must have been pretty disorienting and unpleasant for the bird. Hopefully it was quick. I don’t know how rats prefer to handle live prey. Are they like a dog and try to snap the neck first? Or are they more like a praying mantis who will hold a fly still while it begins to eat its face?

I guess that’s it. Not a very good story.

Anyway, I hope you’re having a good summer. And remember what I said about raising the bar.

Mr. Teachbad


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