The sound of birds screaming—yes, screaming—in the backyard means only one thing: There is a baby on the ground!
It is early morning and I am using the screen door for that hour or two we can enjoy fresh air before the heat takes over. I’ve lived in this house long enough to be familiar with the backyard sounds. There’s always lots of ambient bird noise (we have lots of bushes and trees), and I can tell the difference between normal and screaming. Something is up.
I immediately hustle out there and bring Laddie the cat—who does not have a nestling in his mouth, but was simply strolling through the yard doing his unintentional impression of a Large Black Monster—inside.
When Gerry and Suzy the dog get back from their walk, I caution them to keep an eye out and naturally Suzy finds the baby pretty quickly. “Suzy!” we shout, and run over.
The baby is on its back, wings spread, eyes closed, neck bent. Oh no. Such a beautiful little thing, gone. A precious life. I bend over to scoop it up; a last gentle touch is all I can give it.
And I would have, except just as I touch its little head, it opens one eye, squawks, leaps to its feet, and takes off running across the yard. Who knew baby robins had a play-dead failsafe instinct?
We bring Suzy inside, keep the cats in all day. The backyard is, at the moment, safe for baby birds. All is calm.