The Good Mother

Nursery attendants shifted into high gear last month to accommodate the every thirty minutes feeding schedule for the huge number of birdnapped newborns and fledglings that now claim 100 Wildlife Way as their foster home. The incubators are full, the table and counters are covered with crab boxes, waterless fish tanks and netted doll playpens, all housing a variety of infant and juvie bird species. Same size and compatible youngins like robins, blue jays and mockingbirds can room together, while some loners, who don’t get along with anybody, get their own space. (Just a tip to other wildlife rehabilitators if you haven’t found this out already; don’t try to buddy a Titmouse with a House Finch. I never knew a cute, little Titmouse could be so vicious. It was a frenzied evacuation believe me. I was apologizing to the terrorized Finch for the rest of the day.) Rehabbers squeeze in between and around larger canopied, human baby playpens on the floor used to restrict fully feathered adolescents who are still learning to eat on their own before the big move to an outside enclosure for flight school. Well-meaning people, who do not understand the natural behaviors of wildlife, deliver bobble-headed bird babies to the shelter everyday. The list of reasons is quite extensive; “I think they’ve been abandoned, or the big birds keep flying at me when I go near the nest (duh!), or they leave droppings on my car (so . . . move your car?), or they nested in my mailbox (how about . . . use a temp container on top or to the side of the box for a few weeks, just until they wave adios, hasta luego!). It’s a very slim chance they’ve been abandoned. Even if something happens to one parent the other will continue to bring food to the nest until the newborns are ready to take flight. The only excuses that really carry a lot of weight with me are ” The cat was about to get them” or “I pulled the snake out of the nesting box, but he’d already eaten two.” (Yes, the snake must eat, but two is more than enough.) Living in the wild is harsh, even the semi-wild such as your backyard or workplace. Unfortunately, bird parents don’t have the defenses needed to save their young from domestic or feral cats and dogs who injure, kill or orphan millions of birds each year, and they don’t pack the punch to whip up on an aggressive snake, either. Those little hollow legs aren’t capable of the Ninja kick they need to do business, despite what is represented in Disney’s animated features. So, there are some good reasons to disrupt the family unit for the greater good (but not many). Although natural mothers provide better care, nutrition, and survival training than any wildlife rehabilitator, we do the best we can for the orphans in our care. We can feed the babies comparable diets, be it syringe fed formula, fruit, crickets, a variety of seed, meal worms and for the robins, juicy earthworms we dig out of the compost pile, but we don’t look like their parents (although some of you might choose to debate that) and try as we might, we can’t teach them to be wild. They just don’t take us seriously enough. They will have to depend on each other for that. Our golden advice is and has always been; if they are not in danger and there is a possibility the mother is around, wait. There are plenty of good mothers out there, even if you don’t see them. They are hidden and patiently waiting to see what the gigantic human is going to do. Wildlife mothers (and fathers) are devoted to the survival of their offspring, but Mom must leave the babies from time to time to feed herself and in the case of birds, find food for them. After fledging, young birds will still hang out with their parents and beg for food, much like human babies old enough to leave the nest but smart enough to know a good thing when they’ve got it.

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Have faith in the good wildlife mothers. They possess instinctive loyalty and tenacity far beyond our awareness. One of the Good Mothers I loved to visit was a Mourning Dove who nested in a hanging plant each year at Pal’s Hardware. After situating herself, the clerks would pull other plants around her for safety, place a “Do Not Disturb” sign, and pile straw beneath her chosen nesting spot to cushion a fall if a baby dove took a tumble. Last year, during a tropical storm, the torrential rains didn’t let up for hours, and I couldn’t help thinking about her; wondering if the hanging plant could possibly drain fast enough to prevent drowning the babies. I threw on my poncho and headed to the store, which was closed due to the hurricane threat, only to find The Good Mother hunkered down, keeping her dependent brood safe and dry. This year Pal’s Hardware discontinued the foliage and plant service they provided for so many years, and I miss her.

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If you come across an active bird nest you feel is in a danger zone or has become a nuisance to you, please call your nearest wildlife shelter before displacing it. The bird world thanks you.

Linda Bergman-Althouse

author of Save Them All

252-240-1200 owlsonline.org

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Letter of Appreciation

The “Authorteers” would like to thank all the people who visited our canopy on Saturday during the Arts By the Sea Festival in Swansboro, NC. Whether it was to share their own inspirational stories, listen to ours, grab a patch of shade or pick up copies of our written works, intimate memories were made that day that won’t be forgotten. It was encouraging to hear appreciative words spoken regarding the value placed on story telling and our efforts to document life in Eastern North Carolina historically, poetically and through personal experience. Although we anticipated meeting a number of out-of-state tourists enjoying our coast, the local North Carolinians (or transplants of many years) truly understood our cause and enriched the day. Our number of visitors may have also been a direct result of strategic positioning across from the free sample “bread lady” and the “shaved ice” truck. I (Linda) learned more about growin’ “Tobacca” than I truly knew there was to know. Jumping in, I shared some detasseling corn experience that failed to compute. We send special thank yous to the Swansboro Chamber for inviting us, Suzanne Smithson (proprietor of the Market Place and Fudge Factory on W. Main Street in Swansboro) for promoting us, and to Judy Hailey, who was so helpful in our set up and the mad, scurried take down when rain knocked at the door. Thanks again to all the attendees who braved the heat, challenged the wet forecast and seized the day!

Authorteers:

Linda Bergman-Althouse, author of Save Them All
Nancy Tripp King, local award winning poet
Jack Robinson, historical researcher

My Ten Plus Reasons

With so many choices, hundreds of thousands of books on the shelves, how in the world can a person narrow their take to a manageable number of reads over the summer? Guess you just need a little help from your friends. That’s how I get by.

Awarding winning poet, Nancy Tripp King, writes: “Linda Bergman-Althouse’s book, Save Them All, lingers with me long after I have placed it in its alphabetical order on my bookshelf of ‘Keepers.’ It wasn’t just that I learned so much about the nature of wild creatures (despite my growing up on a farm), it wasn’t just the easy flow of extensive events nor the ease of the dialogue and interactions between this northern transplant and all those southerners, who she portrayed with such justice and kindness; nor was it the complicated love triangle focused on Colbi, her lead character. It was the way this author dealt with prickly situations. I, as a reader, fell in love with Elliot, the ‘older’ doctor who befriended Colbi when she first came to Locus Point, and did not want him hurt. I began to wonder how she was going to handle my heart if he became the ‘one-not-chosen.’ The writer in me struggled with the notion that if she rejected and, therefore, hurt him, I would dislike this Linda Bergman-Althouse. Sometimes, we just need to take luxurious pleasure in love found within the pages of a book. Linda, with the ease and generosity that, I think, is her trademark, let love happen on a ride running the gamut of emotions. This, and her expertise with plot and character, allowed me to wallow in this wonder called ‘Love.’ And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes Linda Bergman-Althouse’s Save Them All a keeper.”

Nancy Tripp King authored “Tobacco Blossoms and The Pulled-Tight Twine,” a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award For Poetry and “Those Days When Love Doesn’t Work,” which was selected and published as part of Main Street Rag’s Editor’s Select Poetry Series. Her most recent writing credits include Evansville Review, Concho River Review, Pembroke, Asheville Poetry Review, Iris, and a Pushcart Award nomination from Coal City Review.

It’s a fact. Self-publishing demands self-marketing. Therefore, I submit to you my 10 plus sane reasons to choose Save Them All for a perfect summer read.

IF: You are a person who doesn’t follow trends.
You want to live another life for 256 pages.
You want and need romance in your life.
You want to hone or manifest coping skills.
You don’t know what a Dovekie is.
You want to bathe in an invigorating story blessed with strong female, as well as, male characters.
You care about our natural resources including wildlife and want to know others care too.
You choose to spare yourself from yet another book that imagines our nation’s catastrophic decline.
You are going on vacation and want a book that doesn’t take up too much room in your travel bag.
You want to read an intriguing and unusually packaged novel, washed in peach, a cool summer color.
You want to vacation on the coast but because your funds are so scarce, your only ‘resort’ will be visual imagery.
You want to get to know me better.

AND you may choose Save Them All because Nancy Tripp King, a darling of a southern writer who delivers a mix of soothing and gritty prose we can all dance to, recommends it.

Basically there is no reason, I can think of, not to experience the subject author’s book! Check out my website for umpteen methods and locations offering Save Them All. If you’re an avid reader with a number of titles in mind, just add it to your summer reading queue. I recommend placing it on top of the pile and keeping it handy after the read just in case the second book in the stack causes you to want to revisit Locus Point, where romance and passion, awakened, go wild! Some people actually have time to read 4 or 5 books a week. I find that ability staggering, and I’m quite envious. I can just imagine all the adventures I’m missing. “One Day,” she sighed.

A Friend,

Linda Bergman-Althouse
Author of “Save Them All”
Coming Soon(er or later) – – “The Purple Fence”