The birds feeding outside the Lundy ranch in West Duluth have lately included a young starling with a broken leg.
The leg hangs uselessly to one side as it uses its other leg to hop about on my deck floor, scrounging for millet and other bits of food. It can fly, but it can’t perch. It tries to get succulent bits of suet out of my suet log by flying close and stabbing at it with its beak, but it isn’t successful.
Apparently, the other starlings are Darwinists, because they make no effort to help the gimpy-legged member of the flock survive. Another starling found a nice bit of suet on the deck floor the other day, and when one-leg hopped in that direction the other bird chased it away.
I’m not optimistic about the disabled starling’s survival opportunities. I expect to find its corpse on the deck or on the lawn one morning. Hasn’t happened yet.
I won’t do what a friend of a friend did when she came across a robin with a broken wing outside her house. She brought in the robin and provided food and water until the wing healed, keeping her cats confined. The cats must have thought this was terribly unfair.
The robin did heal and flew away when released, and then announced itself from the branch of a nearby tree when it returned the following spring, the friend’s friend reported.
I doubt that I would have gone through that much effort. I certainly wouldn’t do it for a starling with a broken leg.
But I find myself pulling for it. I’ve followed Minnesota sports teams long enough to hope that when the odds are against a critter it can somehow come out on top.
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