Play, Practice, Learn

Agnes Martin – The Starling

Agnes - early morning
Agnes – early morning

This last week has been one filled with angst, pride, responsibility and delight. A fledgling starling needed help and with my friend Roberta, we rescued the bird we call Agnes Martin. Perhaps the greatest benefit has been getting to know Roberta. Because of Agnes, we are becoming fast friends.

Why Agnes Martin? There is a current exhibit at LACMA by this wonderful artist, from Wikipedia:

“Agnes Bernice Martin, born in Canada, was an American abstract painter. Often referred to as a minimalist, Martin considered herself an abstract expressionist. She once stated, ‘Artwork is a representation of our devotion to life.'”

Back to the bird…. After many trips to Petco, phone calls to wildlife rescue organizations, emails and phone calls between the two of us, Roberta and I have learned much about starlings. For the first week, we were obsessed with keeping her alive, while pushing her toward independence. Roberta spent hours sitting in my yard, just observing and protecting her. My friend Rachelle fed her when I could not. We listen for her calls, then whistle for her. She swoops down from the trees, hops on a shoulder and chirps away. She’s been to yoga class and Friday night dinners.

Here’s the story that went in the LACMA Docent Newsletter:

Headline:  Docents rescue Agnes Martin or is it Agnus Martin

On a recent Friday, docents, Linda Eifer and Roberta Bloom were heading back to the Plaza after a Spotlight tour when they discovered a little bird hopping around on the second floor near the Hammer mezzanine.  She had wool or threads tangled around her leg which they removed with scissors provided by Lacma Staff.  They had immediately recognized the bird as a work of art and named her Agnes Martin, that is till they realized she might be a he and offered up a gender neutral spelling. Leaving the bird hopping about near the escalator was not an option. There was also the possibility that Esmeralda, (our hired falcon) might be working weekends. A quick decision was made to temporarily remove the bird from museum grounds. Linda drove Roberta home with the bird sitting on her shoulder and came back for her several hours later after the two docents had done their research.  Agnes/Agnus is a European Starling.  She is probably a fledgling and her hopping indicates that she is was 3-5 days from being able to fly and feed herself.  California Bird Rescue recommended a diet of fruit, moistened dog food and meal worms.

Roberta and Linda assumed  joint custody of Agnes/Agnus, and Linda took home the bird for the first two nights. Too young to peck for food, she opens her beak and waits for her mothers to feed her. And Linda did – at 8PM, midnight and 4AM. Agnes loves blueberries, eggs  and mushy kibble. Meal worms were added to her diet after the folks at Petco patently offered her various sizes.

By evening, Agnes learned to hop and wing her way to the nearest shoulder, her favorite place to hang out. Like most toddlers, she is sweet, social and demanding.

Roberta took over for the next two nights and Agnes grew and prospered. Back at Linda’s house, Agnes settled in. Now capable of full flight, she takes off at night, but shows up early mornings squawking for breakfast…then lunch, frequent snacks, and dinner. She spends her days taunting the dogs and charming anyone who comes into the backyard. She bathes daily in the fountain and after a few harrowing rescues, learned to navigate the pond.

On a personal note, we love Agnes, and want her to become less dependent on us for food. That said, we just ordered 1000 meal worms. After all, starlings can live for 20 years.

Please come and visit her,

Roberta and Linda – proud foster moms of Agnes Martin, LACMA Starling