TBGDN's blog: A Bird Story

Posted on Jul 22, 2017 7:47 PM

Tom's story of the Birds In A Bucket caught my attention today. The thread "Birds In A Bucket" in Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum https://garden.org/forums/view...
Thumb of 2017-07-20/TBGDN/3178b7It reminded me of another bird story a few years back. A storm had ravaged our gardens and trees that summer, and I had gone out to check for damages near dark. Suddenly this near naked little form appeared in front of me lying helplessly on the cold, wet grass. I looked all around and found no nest, and no parent birds. My thoughts were "Oh no, I can't save this tiny bird; it's too small!" With darkness and more storms coming on fast I cradled her in my hands and warmed her with my breath. Looking around for final hope of a nest I took her into the kitchen where I (we, wife now involved) made a nest of tissues and paper towels in a small pail and placed it on the kitchen counter in a warm spot.. She would surely not survive the night we thought.

Thumb of 2017-07-20/TBGDN/b14b72We knew she was a Chipping Sparrow baby since the shrubs around the yard are a favorite habitat, and we've long encouraged them. They are migratory, going south in the winter, and return each spring for summer habitat and nesting. They are seed eaters meaning we had to find something for nourishment if she was to survive. So I headed out to the supermarket to get strained baby foods and a syringe. The next morning we carefully uncovered the "nest" to find this tiny head reaching for us with mouth open. A small amount from the syringe was immediately swallowed by short periods of rest and more faint "cheeps" with raised head and open mouth. To our surprise and relief she made improvements throughout the day and well into the following night. By next morning she was making faint cheeps which stopped only with small bits of food. It was encouraging to see, but never ending feedings and nest cleanings were mandatory.

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This tiny life would be saved, but we worried about her adapting to outdoors and other birds. So the answer was to condition her to other birds and outdoor environment. It would be a big job for this small creature. But we were determined to see it through no matter the cost in time and effort. Over the coming days and weeks we had to treat her as though she was in the "wild" by leaving her outdoors for extended hours, with each day adding longer hours. We grew increasingly worried about attacks from other birds, the possibility of hawks and the risk of cats. But she grew, fledged, and loved the freedom of the open landscape. She would sometimes fly down and sit on my shoulder or lap and ask for food. Then she would hop down on my shoe and pick at some imaginary insect, then off she would fly.

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After several weeks she stayed away longer, and longer; but if she saw us at 200 feet away she would come and greet us. We knew in our hearts she needed to be without us in her now expanding environment. So other than minimal garden work and mowing we stayed out of her world as much as possible. Somehow it was heartbreaking not to be near her, but it was her life that mattered, and that was what we were trying to preserve, not ours.

As summer faded into autumn she eventually failed to return to us again. My only consolation was that my prayers would be answered for her safety in the wild, especially in migration. I was so reminded of the TV story of "Born Free" starring the lioness cub Elsa. I could only imagine what it was like to let an animal return to the wild after intimate contact. I never knew a human being could form such a strong bond to such a small species of bird or other animal. Even now I must force myself to stay away from young animals and birds, knowing that their natural instincts are better than mine. There is only one emotion that I can use to describe the feeling of separation and that is loneliness and heartbreak. And to this day I can still experience that emotion.

Thumb of 2017-07-23/TBGDN/c614afHello, and welcome to my blog. I am known here simply as TBGDN (tall bearded iris garden)This story is true and occurred more than seven years ago; and it remains a part of my memory to this day. The most important point I can make from this experience is to always show compassion, concern and care for nature's creatures, especially the little ones. But there is also another emotion of the human heart that tells us not to get so deeply involved in nature's work! That is so difficult for someone like me who spent a childhood in the fields, woodlands and streams among every part of nature! Whenever I need to make a decision of this sort in preservation of wildlife I try my best to follow the laws of the area where I live. But when there is immediate danger of loss of life, then I must let my heart make the final decision. By no means does this mandate what others must do in similar situations. We are all put together differently in body, mind and spirit. Each of us must follow our own conscience.

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