Monday, June 16, 2008

Just Another Monday Life Lesson

While walking around the corner to pick up my son from a play date, visions of a microwaved dinner and early bedtimes danced in my head. Sneezing and coughing my way through school volunteering and shopping at Trader Joe's tired me out; spreading germs citywide can do that a person. I dreamed of getting the kids to bed so I could lay my own congested head on a pillow sometime before midnight.

But the powers that be had something else in mind for me today. Halfway to my destination, I found my son, his two friends, and their babysitter, hunched over the grass looking at this:

"Mommy, mommy!" my son cried. "It's a bird. A baby bird! It fell out of it's nest. I think it's dying!"

"Help it, Fran. You have to help it!" his friend pranced around helplessly. "Call the animal doctor. Get an ambulance. Hurry!"

"Don't touch it," I screamed as they hovered over the little body. I explained to them that if you touched it the mother might not accept the baby back into the nest. (I learned this sometime, somewhere, but couldn't remember the particulars - better to be safe than sorry.)

"Help it, Fran. Help it," repeated the friend. "Do something, he's DYING!"

The little bird kept reaching it's neck toward the sky and opening wide it's yellow trimmed beak looking for it's mommy, for food. It's body was an bold display of exotic colors - blue, pink, yellow: Beautiful if it weren't so displaced.

I called a friend and had them call a local vet. She called back and asked if the nest was accessible.


Is the mother bird nearby?


We had been standing back, keeping some distance, hoping the mother bird would return and reclaim her offspring. We could hear other birds chirping nearby but saw no mother. My friend told me to stay there in case any predatory cats came by.

We waited a few minutes. Nothing.

I left the boys and the sitter keeping watch and my son and I ran home. I called the California Wildlife Center office (a suggestion to my friend from the vet). They instructed me to build a makeshift nest, place the baby in it (it's apparently ok to touch a baby bird - who knew?) and nail or tape it close to the nest in case the mother returns. He said chances of survival were slim since the featherless bird was so young but without finding the nest, it was the best we hope for.

This is what my son and I put together.

He picked the lambs ears for a soft bed. I don't know if he put the flower there on purpose but, either way, it was a nice touch.

I wrapped packaging tape around the tupperware nest so it would hang securely from a branch of the tree.

When we returned, I picked up the baby bird who continued stretching and gaping hoping it's mother was nearby. I placed it in on the bed of leaves. Within seconds the bird had the flower in it's mouth.

"It's poisonous! That's a poisonous flower!," screamed the friend. "Get it out, get it out! He's going to die."

The flower wasn't poisonous but it could have choked the bird so the sitter pulled on the flower while I held the bird's body for leverage.

It took two grown women and a dozen attempts to pry the flower from this baby's beak. It's frail body belied it's strength.

The sitter noticed pieces of a nest inside the street sign right above where they found the bird so we taped the temporary nest to the pole beneath it.

She and her boys needed to get home. My son left, too. I remained. Keeping watch. Me. The nest. The bird.

A few minutes later a neighbor came out of her house, "What are you doing?" she asked.

"Trying to save a life."

I explained the afternoon drama. She left and came back with a ladder. Within minutes, bird and soft leaf bed in hand, she ascended the ladder and deposited the baby back where it came from. Where we think it came from. There were no signs of life but we hoped for the best. (I'm sparing my kind neighbor photos of her butt on the internet. I feel I owe her that.)

As we took down the ladder we noticed a bird watching from a nearby tree. We hoped it was the baby's mother. We don't know. We left to let nature take it's course.

My son wondered all evening about the bird's fate. I couldn't honestly give him a happy ending but I tried what I thought was the next best thing. He had brought home sweet pea flowers from his school garden. They had wilted in his backpack. He wanted to throw them out rather than give them to me as planned. I secretly put the flowers in some water and called him over when they'd had time to refresh.

"See, sweetie? They're not dead. They just needed a little help."

He fell asleep worrying about the bird. I told him sometimes all we can do is help out the best we know how and let nature do the rest. I assured him that whatever happened, the bird was resting comfortably, thanks to him.

He smiled.


Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful story, nice to see humanity in those young boys. I guess mindless shows (although funny) like Sponge Bob are killing all of their brain cells.

slouching mom said...

Oof. Break my heart.

I'm so glad you tried.

Dawn@Embracing the Ordinary Life said...'s wonderful when they want to help...I wish I had known about the "make a fake nest"...I'll have to keep that one filed in my head... said...

You are a GOOD MOM. You and your son will talk about this for years to come, and it demonstrates that you have taught him compassion. Way to go, Merlot!


Stefanie said...

So sweet. Now I need an update on the bird! Can you check?

ByJane said...

See, all that wine you drink is only helping!

Dawn said...

You are such a special person. I'm sitting here in tears, touched to my core, by what you taught your son and his friends. And think, just a few days ago you were worrying about him and his friends.

Toddie Downs said...

What a gorgeous story.

cpckqueen said...

I am impressed he thought of the flower,even if by accident! Nice story, loved the picture of the tape!

Lori said...

Lovely story. I've tried to rescue many a small animal and sometimes even insects in my life and it's nice to hear similar tales from others to know that I'm not the only one out there! I think that the willingness to reach out to other living things with caring and compassion says alot about a person.

Thanks for sharing your heart-warming story. Maybe it will inspire others to follow suit.

Duchess said...

Sounds like you are doing a pretty good mom job. Better than that bird mom, anyway!

amyz5 said...

ok. you HAVE to go back and check on that bird! all that work (nice nest BTW). now i have another heartbeat to worry about.

seriously, whatever the outcome you did you best. nice lesson for the kids.

merlotmom said...

amyz5 et al: I checked on the bird for a few days afterward. On the second or third day I actually saw the mother fly out of the street sign and I heard babies chirping. I'm going to choose to believe that our life saving attempts were successful. I didn't see any lifeless bodies on the ground, so that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. Thanks for caring.

Anonymous said...

Are you a writer? That story was beautiful, but it truly was symbolic and poetic also. I would submit it if I were you. Its very well written (strategically).

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