Bird brain

There’s a giant tree that towers near a set of north-facing windows in my son’s room on the second floor of our Scottsdale home. A cat tower sits nearby so the family cat, Pinky, can take in the view — which often includes birds flitting between branches.

We often enjoy the sound of birds in the morning as we eat breakfast in a kitchen nook with a large bay window that gives us a bird’s eye view of citrus, pine and assorted desert trees. Sometimes hummingbirds land on nearby plants — but typically they prefer the garden in front of our house.

Our garden — filled at the moment with brightly colored poppies and geraniums — sits under windows for other rooms, making it easy for everyone in the family to watch birds with some regularity. We’re not seasoned bird watchers, but we do enjoy watching families of quail — especially babies lined up behind older birds — as they duck in and out of bushes and shady plants.

One day Christopher and I were looking for something to do. He’s never been much of a sitter, which means television and Nintendo-type gizmos have never held much appeal. Usually we try and get outdoors or at least explore something with an artistic or animal twist of some sort.

We settled on the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix – which features both indoor exhibits and outdoor habitats that are fun for folks of all ages to explore. We took lots of photos that day so we could put together the following slide show to give you a feel for the Center, which you’ll enjoy a whole lot more if you head out exploring with your own kiddos and camera.

My favorite bird experience by far took place when Christopher was in elementary school. We lived on a quiet street in a house that looked a bit like something out of “Hansel and Gretel” — but with a mahogany-colored, ivy-covered facade rather than sides covered in striped hard candies or red licorice.

Christopher’s room was at the back of the house, far from the front and back doors. Still, a tiny baby quail found its way into Christopher’s room one day. We spotted it near a denim beanbag chair that nowadays serves as napping central for Pinky.

The bird ran inside Christopher’s closet when we tried to get a closer look. Thank goodness it never made its way to Christopher’s large LEGO table, where it surely would have been lost among pint-size construction trucks and pizza chefs.

We all knew better than to touch the baby bird, but we needed to get it to safety. We called an organization that does bird rescue — and they gave us very detailed instructions on how to get the baby quail from our house to their rescue center.

I don’t remember the name of the group we called, but I’m glad we found them. And I’m proud that my three young children knew better than to try and pet the baby bird or keep it as a pet.

Most of us don’t have bird on the brain all that often. But just in case you run into a similar situation of your own one day, why not take the time now to get the name and number for an animal rescue organization like “Liberty Wildlife” on your bulletin board or in your favorite organizing gadget.

Somewhere out there is a mommy quail who thanks you.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about an initiative of the National Audubon Society called “Pennies for the Planet.” It’s a fun way for kids to support wildlife conservation projects including boosting habitats for Monarch butterflies in Arizona.

Coming up: More outdoor art adventures

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