After a winter of heavy rain and blustery winds, our 58 olive trees, growing on the hillside in three levels of terracing, have suffered mightily.
Planted seven years ago from 15-gallon containers, the trees are large and loaded with tiny olive buds. Many would have not survived had not our friend Glenn been staying at our home when the trees succumbed to the soppy clay soil (olive trees hate to get their feet wet) and began to topple over, one by one.
Glenn staked them up temporarily back in January.
We were able to begin the repair last weekend. It was a sorry sight, like Van Gogh’s image here:
We worked all three days. I pruned the trees (artist that I am), and my husband (the guy with ingenuity and strength), staked up each tree.
To do this, he had to ask his big John Deere tractor to pull each tree erect before he could stabilize it. Then, he wrapped two rubber cords attached to thick wires around each trunk, and finally with the triple tension in balance ( tractor, tree, wires) pulled back and secured the tree by hammering two metal stakes into the hard earth. He then topped each stake with a large orange square for safety. What a guy.
On his way to deposit the cuttings in our huge chip pile, he noticed a small grey pillow of fluff resting on a log. Oh no!!
One only had to look up to the sky to see and hear a frenzied Red-tailed hawk mother screaming, diving, and zig-zagging throughout the sky. Her baby had fallen out of the nest. Frantic is too calm of a word to describe her angst.
In all of the years that we have been watching Red-tailed hawks construct their huge nests high in the pine trees on the Rancho, feed their young, and finally give flying lessons to their fledglings, we have never known a chick to fall out of the nest.
She fell on some type snake carcass or something:
As you can imagine, it was a stressful experience for all, including us.
Several calls to what I wish had been a local bird hospital but instead was one 50 miles away, we determined that this chick was not a fledgling learning to fly. It should be in its nest.
As the mother continued to scream, I wondered why she didn’t come down and pick it up.
My husband put on his gloves, constructed a Banker’s box, laid a towel in the bottom, and picked up the very weak fluff ball and put her in her bed for the night.
He set her in the garage.
“Shouldn’t that box be in the house where it is warm?” I inquired.
He wasn’t so sure.
“Let’s set her on the dining table,” I said.
He reluctantly capitulated; Dinah, the Labrador, agreed with me although her motives may have been insincere. We locked her in the family room for the night.
This morning, as I arose early to drive her to the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital in Walnut Creek, my husband asked me if I was going to look in the box before I left in commute traffic.
To tell you the truth, I almost didn’t look for fear of finding a dead hawk chick, but I heeded his advice. When I picked up the box and put my hand on the bottom, it was warm. Whew.
She was still breathing but very weak.
One hour later, we arrived at the hospital; they took her without emotion and set the box on a heating table. That was that. I felt the need to emote. But. That was that.
“Do not call for two days and inquire about this bird,” a very nice Green woman instructed me.
The hospital was swamped. “Baby birds are falling out of their nests in droves,” she added.
Other people had small tissue and jewelry boxes with, I assumed, small birds within.
I wondered (but did not say), ” Shouldn’t a hawk (or any raptor for that matter) take precedence over say, a sparrow or hummingbird?”
I’m so glad I didn’t ask that question aloud. The room may have been stormed by rampaging Evergreen College students.
In two days, I will call and hope that Margaret (the name I have given this chick) is still alive.
Until then, let’s hope for the best.
June 2, 2017: Good news! Margaret (or Ed, depending on what sex this chick is) is going to make it. She was emaciated and has a bacterial infection of some sort. She has gained weight. The Lindsay Wildlife Hospital indicated that they thought, when ready, she can be released back “home” on the Rancho.
June 7, 2017: Better news! Margaret has now been moved to home care. She is eating and gaining weight. I have no idea when she will be able to hunt by herself and fly. I will call each week and report back to the blog.