Bird

A few days ago I heard an alarmingly loud noise and had no idea what had happened. As I walked to the front of my condo I saw that a bird had flown into my storm door. It was lying lifelessly on my porch. Remembering what my husband had done in similar circumstances years earlier, I carefully picked it up, cupped it in my hand, and gently rubbed its tiny back. Slowly one eye opened and then the other opened halfway and gradually it started to move. After several minutes I put it carefully on the ground and watched as it moved its legs and then its wings. I was not relieved for there was something badly wrong with this little one.

As the hours passed I watched it have numerous seizure-like attacks. Its head would go down into the grass or mulch where it sat and then its wings would stretch out and it would flutter around and around. It was hard to watch and I felt sure it would die from its head injury. I even considered putting it out of its misery, but couldn’t make myself do it. I was afraid something would harm it overnight, so I tried putting it in a box on a soft cloth so that I could put it into my garage but it became more frightened and agitated so I took it back out and put it under a shrub for the night. I’m am sure the birdie got no more sleep than I did.

The next morning he was a few feet from where I left him and seemed much stronger and was not having the seizures. I left it there and went for a walk. When I came back she was in the street! I guess it’s too late to make a long story short, but I’ll try. After a very long day of watching the bird and having help from the neighbors who fed and watered it with me, after many calls I reached a “bird rehabilitator”.

By now the birdie was so much better and except for one half-closed eye and the fact that it wasn’t flying it seemed in pretty good condition. Back into the box it went for the drive to the woman’s house who had agreed to help it rehabilitate. The woman, Mary, gently lifted it from the box, and confirmed that it was a female house finch. She took it into her home and I am so grateful that this little one has an adequate caregiver after two days with me as I played it by ear while following my heart.

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“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.” Victor Hugo

Katie & The Bird

Katie, a seven-year-old felt maternal for the half-naked starling that fell out of the sky and into her life one Saturday afternoon. Twenty-four hours later the bond was solid. Every thirty minutes or so she cautiously poked a hamburger “worm” down his throat with a tiny stick. He chirped, Katie poked. When Katie’s parents arrived the next morning they knew church was out of the question. There was no point in going to Sunday School to learn about kindness and love if you were required to leave one of God’s helpless creatures alone and without food for hours. As Katie proudly demonstrated her ability as a surrogate everyone was impressed by her expertise, especially Aunt Dianne.

After the people lunch it was again time for Bird to eat. Katie went outside to the specially prepared box to find it empty. The whole family searched and searched the yard looking under every structure and bush. Katie, though very quiet, was picturing all the harm that could come to a weak little bird. Daddy said, “Well, it wasn’t a cat, there are no feathers around.” Pop said, “I bet Bird was adopted by a Robin. I’ve seen Robins take care of orphaned birds.” Aunt Dianne said, “You took such good care of him, Katie, he was probably strong enough to fly away.” Grandmother related a story of Mommy’s beagle which disappeared without a trace and how Grandmother had always thought pleasant thoughts of his maverick adventure.

Mommy walked silently beside Katie as they continued to search all around in the ninety-five-degree heat and all the while afraid of what they might find. Finally, all the places had been explored and the disappointed family returned inside to the chilly air-conditioned kitchen. The grown-ups went back to their places at the table to cool off with some iced tea. Katie silently walked up the stairs to her own private space in Grandmother and Pop’s house. She entered the special room with all her Beanie Babies and other favorite stuffed animals who didn’t require feeding and she lay on her bed thinking of Bird out in the hot sun. Where could he be? Just as tears began to run down her cheeks she felt someone else’s weight on the bed with her. Without opening her eyes, she knew exactly who it would be. Mommy began to rub Katie’s back with the same love and tenderness with which Katie had cared for Bird. Without many words, Mommy assured Katie she, too, felt sad for Bird and was very concerned about the real dangers the big world might hold for such a little creature. They lay quietly on the bed for a long time.

Although there was no answer to the mystery of where Bird was, Katie wanted to be brave so she and Mommy eventually went back down the stairs to rejoin Grandmother’s birthday party. Katie and Mommy went to their car together to get Grandmother’s present and walked gingerly back around the house, still very quiet. As Katie stepped onto the patio she heard “chirp, chirp, chirp!” and under the shade of one of Grandmother’s big herb pots stood Bird impatiently demanding food.

Written 6/29/98

BIRD