The hurt Mickey.

I have always been rather fond of the little Mickeys. They are plentiful but seem to do no damage in my vegetable garden. Ten years or more, when I was very lonely, there even was one who would sit on a wire on the trellis and chirp away to me as I worked. He would answer me and did not appear to be afraid. I regarded him as a dear little friend.

Last week, Davey, my twenty-year-old, handsome grandson came to mow my large lawn, as usual. As he picked up the small, fallen branches of the gumtrees, he spied a ball of yellowish fluff in the grass. It was a partly-grown Mickey that had fallen from the nest high in one of the gums. Davey held it tenderly in his hand when he found me in the shed. He stroked it and it shivered.

‘What are we going to do?’ I asked, for I was ignorant of such matters. It turned out so was he, but his mother, my daughter, was knowledgeable indeed. She was an ardent bird-watcher and knew their habits. Davey phoned her for instructions.

We needed a cardboard box, which I found, and should make a sort of nest in it. Then we should wedge it in a fork of a tree so that the parents would find it and look after their offspring. They would feed it if it were conscious, she said.

My daughter Susan arrived by car before we had completed the job, and she took over, changing our nest somewhat and taking a close look at the poor little nestling. ‘He’s not yet half grown,’ she announced, ‘just look at his feathers. Not much at all. It will be lucky to survive. The magpies or kookaburras will probably get him.’

We clucked around, observing his closed eyes, his stillness. But he was breathing.
‘You know he is not really precious,’ Susan ventured. She knew Davey was a softcake and I not much better. ‘But we must do all we can to help him survive,’ she added, as a necessity, in the grave circumstances.
‘He deserves to live, after falling so far,’ Davey commented, giving the bird a parting stroke with his forefinger as Susan hoisted the box into a fork in a shady part of a tall gum. As she made it firm, we noticed a couple of adult Mickeys hovering around. It was a good sign, my daughter opined.

My tall, athletic grandson completed the mowing and reported to me on the condition of the bird. ‘It is just the same,’ he said, ‘no movement. I am not too hopeful, Grandma.’ But later, towards evening, when I investigated, its eyes were open and it was managing a small chirp. I just hoped it was being looked after.

The next morning, I fearfully peered in the box, and lo! The Mickey”s eyes were open, and its mouth gaped wide, waiting for food! Its chirp was much must have been fed. That afternoon, it had moved to the other side of the box, although it appeared to have no movement of its undercarriage. The mouth still opened wide in expectation.

I was nervous the following day as I walked down the yard to the tree. I knew that predators were plentiful. But the little patient was still there in exactly the same position, still squawking. Good! I tried to have a good look at the extent of its feathers, as Susan had requested. But a sudden rushing over my head frightened me! Was it a magpie? Another swooping rush, so close, made me run for cover. As I darted away, yet another blast of air assailed me, and I covered my head in fear! Then I saw the adult Mickey swoop a couple of times before flying high into the other gumtree. He was warning me to stay away from his baby. Or perhaps it was the mother? In any case, it warmed my heart.