It’s not easy being a foster parent. Especially to an owlet.
Fuzzball seems to have adapted to his new nest quite well. Rich calls it Lawn Chair Nest 2.0, and amazingly it has remained stable on its perch high in the tree. Fuzzball appears content to sleep on the seat by day and host Mom at night when she brings him treats to eat. Not much has changed since Fuzzball’s Rescue, but that is good news. The more time that passes, the closer Fuzzball comes to getting his flight feathers. We harbor hopes that one day he will be strong enough to fly up to his real nest. Until then, we wait and watch. Becoming complacent in our foster parenting.
This morning that changed when Rich returned from his visit with news. “When I got to Fuzzball’s nest, he wasn’t there!”
“The seat was empty. But I looked up, and there he was, standing on the back of the chair!”
It would appear that Fuzzball was ready to try branching. Lacking tree limbs to walk on, he found the next closest thing. This I had to see. Sure enough, there he was, back against the tree, stretched up to his full height. Suddenly he looked really BIG! Even though the sun was already climbing in the sky, he was wide awake and turned to watch me as I approached.
Fuzzball seemed quite proud of his accomplishment, and I have to admit I was impressed. Something like parental pride blossomed as I left him and headed out for my run.
When I returned, a third ladder had joined the collection down by our garage. There was only one explanation – Fuzzball. Rich wasn’t home, and curiosity ate away at my psyche. I had to check on him.
Approaching the nest, Fuzzball looked at me from the seat of chair nest. I silently congratulated him on safely making it back down to his resting spot. I moved around to get a better look. All looked well.
But that was not the whole story.
“I found Fuzzball on the ground again this morning,” Rich reported. Apparently he wasn’t so savvy about getting down from his perch after all. But it didn’t end there.
Rich filled me in. Fuzzball fell on his own the first time, but he plunged two more times – with help. Rich had decided Fuzzball needed an opportunity to try real branching. So he carried him up to a branch and carefully set him down on the limb.
Fuzzball was unable to hang on with his toenails, had bad balance, or just lacked Mom’s training in how to navigate in trees. He tilted, scrambled, spread his wings then plummeted to the ground. Rich tried again. Fuzzball suffered a similar fate.
Rich just happened to capture one of the falls on video. (Note, this is a private video that Rich will delete in a few days, to prevent it from going viral and exposing the owlet.) Click here to view the action. Apart from Fuzzball’s unfortunate tumbles, what I found most interesting and reassuring was seeing the growing feathers on Fuzzball’s wings.
Three strikes and out. Rich conceded the failed experiment and returned Fuzzball to chair nest, where I found him, unaware of his recent drama.
Fuzzball must have been relieved to be back on a stable platform. It was bad enough causing his own fall. Now he has to worry about saviors who can be a threat!
We foster parents don’t always get things right. But our hearts are in the right place. Hang in there, Fuzzball!