One of my earliest memories is of finding a baby robin on the sidewalk in front of our home in Stewartstown, Pennsylvania. I must have been five years old. I was playing with a cap pistol, or perhaps with a water-pressure-propelled rocket toy I loved. My idiot father was seated on a green-and-white lawn chair on the front porch, sipping freshly brewed iced tea that was still hot despite the melting cubes. I remember the way the tea confused me when I tasted it, the hot and cold distinct sensations in the same green cup. The birdling was in a sorry state after falling from its nest, but it was alive. I remember squatting next to it and poking with my finger at its grey mass. Weakly, it lifted its head and began to gape. The interior of its mouth was hideous, and I became scared, but was also filled with pity.
I told my father about the baby bird, and he attempted to pick it up, at which time two robins attacked him in sheer parental protective rage. The were flapping furiously around his head and I can vividly see to this day my father running south along the sidewalk down Main Street, his arms above his head, the birds squawking and lunging at his eyes. They chased him around the block to the cemetary and thence to the backyard of our house, from where he finally escaped into the kitchen.
This memory brought to you courtesy my office mate, who forwarded this Baltimore Sun story, which cracked me up.
[Image courtesy of The Animal Communication Project]