…for almost two days…

kirk and i went to his friend shawn’s house in braham on saturday.

one of shawn’s kids, pendleton, found a baby bird in the yard earlier in the day. he put it in a flower pot. a group of us saw it on our way back from the hopping Braham Appreciation Day Parade. the bird’s eyes were still closed, but it was opening its mouth for food.

i immediately thought about how helpless it was, and i wanted to find some food for it. someone suggested digging up worms, but kirk, having owned a pet shop, said to feed it baby food.

i think most everyone had resolved to just let nature take its course and to leave this baby bird to die on its own, but i told kirk i couldn’t do that. no way. i was going to try and save it.

i asked kirk if we could go get some baby food. well, ‘asked’ isn’t really the right word; i begged. i didn’t care WHERE we got it from, but i was pretty panicked thinking about the baby bird and the immediacy with which something needed to be done to help it. so yeah, i was frantic.

we walked to the store to get some dry baby food, that stuff that looks like instant potato flakes. yum.

shawn’s son half-heartedly wanted to learn how to take care of the bird. he thought it was a cool idea, but then he realized it’d probably be a big responsibility and balked. it was finally decided we’d take the bird home with us, and it would be my duty to care for the little guy (i assumed “little guy;” i didn’t know for sure, but it sounded right).

we moved the bird, now in a box and wrapped in a towel, onto the front seat of the car to keep him warm and prevent any of the neighborhood cats (of which i was told there were “many”) from getting to him.

throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening, i repeatedly mixed his food, heated it up in the microwave and syringe-fed that little guy while starting the car and cranking the heat in order to keep him warm.

he pooped on me a few times, but i was cool with that. after all, it was just poop.

early sunday morning we got the baby bird home and put the box he was in on a heating pad… had a new towel and a scrap of fleece in the box to help it retain the warmth. this was a far cry from the big, scary world he was dumped into all alone. now he had someone to care for him.

all day sunday i again repeatedly mixed and warmed the food every few hours. each time i did, the cats thought THEY were getting that food. no-no. i kept telling my giant monstah kitty, reilly, that this food was for a tiny baby bird who was too little to eat on his own, so i had to help him.

i again syringe-fed the baby bird, in awe of how tiny he was, how big and wobbly its head was and how he would try, try, try to hold up his head and open his beak as wide as he could for me to drop in some food. he was entirely dependent on me.

that little bird made quite a mess with that food, and i would tell him that in the goofy baby talk voice people use when they’re talking to animals (and, incidentally, babies).

i also would whistle at the bird to get him to open his mouth, trying to convince him i was his mama bird, ready to give him food. it worked a few times.

i’d make sure to wipe off his beak and under his tiny chin so the food wouldn’t dry on his little body and wings, which didn’t yet have feathers. he’d clamp his little clawed feet around my fingers when i’d pick him up or shift him in my hands to give him more food. that made me feel like what i was doing for him was a good thing; i thought of it as his way of saying “thank you.”

and again, i got pooped on, but that was a sign that things were okay, so i didn’t mind. g’head and poop on me all you want, little bird.

i was already planning my work week – i would go in early so that i could come home a few times each day to check on the little guy and feed him.

and i planned on coming home between my two jobs on wednesday and thursday for the same reason, which doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but riding a bike often makes traveling from one job to the other a tricky thing when time and distance get factored in.

figured i’d likely have to stay a little later at work each night, but i was fine with that. i just wanted this little guy to have the best chance he could, and if my time during the day was better spent helping him, i’d gladly make up the work time.

i started to wonder if and when i should buy a cage, because once he got bigger and started making noise, the cats would THEN know there was a bird in the house. he’d need protection from them. hmmm…

i wondered how long it’d be before he’d open his eyes, though i SWEAR he opened his left eye sunday night when i fed him before bed. and he looked at me for just a second… i think. it was only the one instance, so i can’t be sure of it. but i’m telling myself that’s what happened. 

i wondered if he’d know how to fly. and if not, how would i teach him to do THAT?? i was hoping that at that point, instinct would kick in.

and i wondered how i’d know he’d be ready to go out on his own… and hopefully return every summer to say hi.

but i was getting ahead of myself.

monday morning i got up early, mixed up and heated his food again, grabbed the syringe and some paper towels and headed toward his box. i lifted the towel off the top of the box only to find no movement from inside.

i always hated this part, because i never knew for sure if he was going to be okay.

this time, he wasn’t.

the little bird had died, and i felt totally helpless – about as helpless as he probably felt without his mom in shawn’s yard. now i was a surrogate mama bird, and my baby bird was gone.

i picked him up, and he was cold… not super cold, but he wasn’t very big either. so this cold was cold enough.

i stroked his back and his featherless wings and talked to him: “baby bird? baby BIRD???? c’mon, baby bird!!!”


he just lay there motionless, in a little, curled ball of tiny birdness.

i was numb.

i wished i had known what MORE i could have done to help him. i felt like i failed him, and i started crying… begging him to come back.

kirk had warned me that the bird, being a wild bird, likely would die, but i figured he, at the very least, deserved a chance. i’d have felt worse if i had just left him alone in that flower pot, KNOWING he wouldn’t survive on his own.

i did the best i could, i think… i hope. i did everything i knew how to do, but it wasn’t enough.

and, again, i wondered what to do…

i put the baby bird in a little decorative box with a ribbon and a bow, and i affixed to the inside of the box top a sticker — of a cartoon star holding a heart-shaped balloon, so that this little bird would know he was loved… even if only for almost two days.

through tears and sniffles, i dug a hole with a garden spade near the steps in the front yard and gently set the box down into it.

i told the baby bird, “i tried, little guy. i’m so sorry.” i cried some more and then covered the box with dirt… and, ironically, a worm.

and while he was too little to open his eyes, didn’t have yet a feather on his tiny little frame and could barely hold up his head, i know he now has his wings.

"gimme food!"

so tiny

hewo, baby bird!

his little box

2 Responses to “…for almost two days…”

  1. Irene Adrian says:

    God Bless you.

  2. Chris S. says:

    Heart breaking … but you’re a wonderful person for trying. It may not have had long on this world, but you did your best to bring comfort to the final hours. That counts big time.

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