June 4, 2012, 3:00 AM
A BirdnappingBy JENNIFER BERMAN
Last Sunday, I was walking with my husband and his mother on West 97th Street, when I stepped very close to a bird.
“Look!” I said to my husband, “It can’t fly.”
We looked down at the small brown bird. I think it was a sparrow.
“It’s not going to survive out here, is it?”
“Probably not,” my husband said.
“I’m taking it home,” I said. “I got an e-mail about it being nesting season. It had a list of places to call if you find an injured bird.”
My mother-in-law found an empty pizza box on top of a trash can, and my husband chased the hopping bird and plopped it inside. They left, and I ran across the street to my building.
Once upstairs, I raced past my two cats and closed the door to my office. I put the pizza box on the floor and opened it so the bird could get some air. Then I pulled up the e-mail and started calling and leaving messages with various organizations.
The bird, meanwhile, had hopped out of the box and scampered under my desk. It stood on a pile of tangled computer wires. I crouched down. I was afraid to touch it. But what if it got lost in my apartment? What if the cats got at it?
I reached out and picked up the little bird as quickly as I could. It felt so fragile; I could easily crush it if I pressed too hard. I put it back into the box and closed the lid.
I kept leaving messages, until finally I reached a man who told me to put the bird back. He said if it wasn’t bleeding or limping then it was a healthy fledgling.
“Fledglings are supposed to be on the ground,” he said. “The parents feed them until they’re ready to fly. We’re flooded with phone calls from New Yorkers who feel compelled to rescue them. But they’re fine where they are.”
I told him I’d heard that the mother would reject a bird once it was touched by humans. He said that was a myth.
I went back downstairs, ran across the street, and put the fledgling down near a tree where I’d found it, as the man had told me. I felt unsure about leaving it there. Crossing the street, I saw a bird flying overhead. I hoped it was its mother.