Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Three little birds.

It was a slow start this year but spring is definitely, finally, for better or worse, here. The garden is planted, things are popping out of the ground left and right and we're blaming all kinds of things, related or not, on allergies.

I even got my first mosquito bite tonight.

It feels good to be a part of it all. I've started to really appreciate all the life that lives around us. I've even taken to bird watching. It's so easy! You just watch birds. People in movies always have binoculars and memberships to the Audubon Society but my style is a bit more pared down.

I just fill up the squirrel bird feeder every day or so and watch birds from the comfort of my hammock or wherever else I happen to be. Turns out, they're everywhere.

We're especially lucky because we happen to have a bird family that builds a nest right above our backdoor every year. Sure, they mess up the already messed up aluminum siding (I know, I's on the list), but it sure is fun to watch the mom and dad fly in and out while the babies chirp and squawk and wait for food (just like Alicia Silverstone's baby!).

We also have a nest in the tree outside our living room window but we've never been able to find it. We know it's there because Mommy and Daddy Finch fly in and out a thousand times a day and we hear lots of baby bird sounds coming from within. But that's pretty much all we knew.

Until yesterday. Liam went to the side yard to turn the hose on for me and discovered a baby bird on the ground. Being new to bird watching, this sent up only a partial red flag. For all I knew this could have been A) tragic, or B) totally normal. 

Once I saw the bird though, I had a feeling it wasn't great. He was kind of hopping around and trying to flap his wings but one of them seemed to be messed up. We did some research and decided, since the mom and dad were definitely still around, it was probably best to leave him alone.

We checked on him all afternoon and evening, chatting with the neighbors who had spotted him as well, trying to decide if there was anything else we should be doing. I knew we could box him up and take him to an animal sanctuary but it seemed like a huge mistake to take him from his parents. I decided (again and again) it was best to let nature take its course. And by the time the sun was setting, it looked as if he might not make it through the night.

It's sad, yes, but that's nature. Not everyone who leaves the nest makes it. The parents were doing everything they could to help their baby and I knew that was the best case scenario. They certainly knew better than a newbie birder with no plan or expertise. 

This morning I was not at all surprised to find him gone.

But this evening, he was back! He looked so much stronger than yesterday that I actually started to believe he might make it. The boys and I gave him his space (all the birds got nervous when we got too close) but I couldn't help but watch the situation unfold through the back fence. (The birds obviously still knew I was there, what with their birds eye view and all, but as long as I stayed behind the fence, they didn't seem to mind me watching.)

It was really sweet. Every few minutes, one of the parents would swoop down to feed their baby. He got SO excited when they showed up. He hopped around and tried to follow them. So much so that I thought he might just hop up and start flying. But the more I watched the more I became convinced that that wing was not going to be okay.

Then, the unthinkable happened. Baby Finch followed his mama right out into the street. It was right about five o'clock; a terrible time of day for wee ones to be near a busy street. Let alone, in the middle of it. I didn't know what to do. So I told Liam to get out there and chase him back to safety.

Fortunately, Liam had more presence of mind than I did at that moment and didn't run right out into traffic like I'm now realizing I told him to. He stopped and looked and waited. A car was coming. Three cars. It wasn't safe. And then... 

The worst.

One of the cars ran right over the baby bird. And my baby had to witness it. 

He broke down. I held him. We both cried and shook our heads and asked why. Death is hard like that. Even though we decided it was probably not the worst thing in the world that could have happened to a baby bird with one wing. 

Still. My heart ached. For Liam. And especially for mama and daddy bird. I watched a little while longer and, while it seemed like they got right on with business (they still had mouths to feed and babies to care for), I knew it could never be that simple. 

Of course their hearts are broken. Their baby is gone. They did everything they could to save him and it wasn't enough. That poor mama bird. Her baby loved her so much he followed her into the street.  And then... Oof. Parenthood is heavy business, no matter what kind of animal you happen to be.

1 comment:

Grandmotherfancypants said...

GrandMaMa is so sad you (Liam) had to experience the loss of the baby bird. I too teared up thinking Mommie bird tried her best to fix her darling little bird.......sometimes we all want to fix someone,so we don't have to lose them but it isn't in our power to do so. Liam I believe God is in control of our lives, yours and your Mama,Daddy ,and Finn,plus our whole world therefore we have to have faith God will do what is best for us and for the ones we love. We can't fix them or the baby bird.I used to think I could fix anything.....but I can't. My best effort in life is LOVING you and Finn.