This bird is living in the Home Dept Store in Duluth. Or it was a few days ago anyway.
At first I just caught it out of the corner of my eye, thinking it was a figment of my imagination, then I discovered it was real. Then, and this is the best part, a lovely clerk in a bright orange smock caught me and my daughter looking for the bird and she started to tell us its remarkable story.
As best as I recall, she told us that the bird flew into the store during the last days of the garden center this fall. They were unable to coax the bird into flying back out through the automatic door, and they did not want to hurt the bird by trying to net it. Therefore, they set out a bright orange feed pail, and at night they run a trickle of water in a bird bath. There are many little plants and those vaulted big box store ceilings in the year-round inside garden center to help it feel at home.
Earlier today I told a very famous bird person about this little creature and the very famous bird person told me that it might be fine and could possibly survive the winter if it is not an insectivore or a saw whet owl (I assume that is because owls eat some kind of rodents?). I didn’t tell the famous bird person this, but my daughter told the Home Depot clerk and I that last week in a similar situation a straggler birdie found its way into her school the staff tried to get it out by any means necessary, for some reason. “They killed it. Whay would anyone kill a little bird?” she told us with the gentle conviction of the lovely 9 year old girl that she is. Naturally, I had no answer to her question, but we were immediately faced with a similar situation where people decided that a more laissez-faire approach to the errant wildlife appears to be a more humane, and, as it happens, a more pleasant approach to that sort of problem.
The clerk in the story, I forgot to make a note of her name, is a lady of a certain age, she had lovely whitish blonde hair and the sort of demeanor that you might expect from Mrs. Claus or a fairy godmother. After spending 5 minutes with this lady I just felt better about the world. Every morning she says that she comes in hoping to find that the birdie is still among the living and hoping that it hasn’t fallen prey to any of the dangers of living in a gigantic hardware store. She clearly is attached to the little creature and enjoys having him or her around, she also fears, I think that the critter may have missed out on flying south with his/her companions for the season. It brings to mind this wonderful bird from the simply peerless Oscar Wilde.
This whole experience gave me and my 9 yr old daughter quite a lift. We had been up there for one of the wonderful free build-it-yourself workshops that the store does. As a hillsider and a neighborhood kind of guy I am glad that there is once again a nighborhood hardware store coming back to East Hillside neighborhood. But, corporate giant or not, Home Depot sure showed me that the people and the management of that place have certainly got a lot of heart.
(Apologies for capturing just the one little picture, the camera was almost completely dead and I was lucky to even get this one before the thing skittered off toward the skylights.)