The Story of the Baby Cardinal

Today the male cardinal here sang his slide-whistle sound, a territorial song, sure sign of mating and spring. I’ve heard him as early as February 6 but I’ll take him anytime. Reminds me of the spring that Demetrius parked his truck in the city on a tree-lined street, went to work, drove home 30 miles and then saw a live baby cardinal in the truck bed. Must have fallen from its nest into the truck.

Demetrius didn’t tell me; he knew I’d fuss and maybe cry, and figured the little thing wouldn’t live long (might have been in the truck bed all day) but the next morning it was still alive and looked him right in the eye and opened its mouth — a language all live things understand. It wanted to be fed.

Demetrius phoned the Bird Sanctuary and then a songbird-rescue shelter and they said to put the cardinal in a paper bag, roll the top over, and bring it. By the time the indignant bird was in the bag Demetrius was fond of it and had named it Ounce. He returned to the shelter the next day before work and watched the rescue people feed Ounce by putting food paste on its beak.

He visited Ounce a third time and said the rescuer was a bit brusque and after he told me the whole story I said don’t go back without a $25 donation and he took my advice.

For the rest of his life if Demetrius needed cheering up I reminded him that there are generations of cardinals because he was good to just one.