Monday, May 18, 2009

"each little bird that sings..."

It started with a bird. She darted in and out of the big
rhododendron bush outside our front door. We noticed her flurry of activity, but thought nothing of it. It was a couple of weeks before E took a closer look and saw a sturdy little nest built into the branches of the bush, close enough to the sidewalk that we could peer in and note the progress of the egg, which soon became plural. Two perfect, blue eggs cradled by the sticks and grasses, and warmed by their mother.
We kept a close watch, and suddenly, one day E came rushing in after school, and announced that there was a baby bird! I ran out the front door, with N close on my heels to see the new hatchling. As I gently pulled back the glossy leaves of the bush, a little scrap of a bird opened its mouth wide as it sensed a presence hovering above it. The effort proved to be exhausting as its head soon flopped to the side, and we wondered at the ability of such a scrawny little neck to hold up the baby bird's head. We then moved inside to our playroom window that looked out into the back-side of the bush. We had a perfect view of the nest from within, and we could keep an eye on the mama without her getting too nervous. We would see her flitting to and from the nest, coming back with worms that she fed to her hungry chick.
The next day was the second baby's birthday and E scoured the name books to come up with the names "Bluebell" for the mama, "Johnny" and "Buttercup" for the babies.

We also had to discuss some rules regarding the viewing of the nest. I explained to the kids that we didn't want to scare the mama bird away, so we would only look at the nest once a day. Throughout the next week I would walk up the pathway to the front door and casually look over at the nest, and there mama Bluebell would be, a foot away from my face, her eyes fixed on me, trying to determine if I was a threat or not. Most often I would move quickly by and she would remain on the nest, but sometimes it took longer as I had several small children with me, and she would dart out of the bush, and keep an eye on us from a nearby dogwood tree. By the end of the week the baby birds had started to grow feathers on their wings, and the fuzz was filling out. E and I bid them good-bye right before we left on our camping trip, and I took a picture.

Whe we returned yesterday the first thing E did was to run up the walkway and check on the nest. She ran back to me exclaiming,"Mommy! The birds are gone!" My heart sank with the news, but I was casual in my response,"Oh, really?" As I walked up I inspected the ground underneath the bush, but their was no sign of little bodies. The nest was indeed empty. I knew that those babies were too young to leave the nest, and the only thing that could have happened was another animal came and devoured them. I don't really know what that animal could have been, maybe a raccoon or even a bigger bird. I just know that I could hardly bear the thought myself, much less having to explain it to my daughter who had so loved those birds. It was the highlight of her day to check on them, and for the moment I let her come to her own conclusions, that the mama bird had carried them away. Later that evening E came to me and said that she hadn't seen the mama bird back at the nest at all, and why would she take her babies away? I gently explained to her that mama birds don't carry their babies. That an animal must have come and eaten the birds. She gazed at me, but she didn't say anything else. She just left the room and went up to bed. I didn't have the energy to pursue it further with her last night, and no time this morning. Yet the whole affair has left my heart heavy. I think of those poor defenseless babies, and the mother watching anxiously as the predator came and carried them away.

I was thinking along this vein as I was weeding the garden this afternoon. I was down by the water and a fluttering in the bushes caught my eye. I took a step closer, and a robin was flapping around in fright as I approached. It became clear that she had become tangled in some fishing line and was unable to get free. I had my gardening gloves on, so I quickly reached down and grabbed the bird, pinning her wings to her side, and tried to untangle her. She chirped in fright, and her mate came swooping out of a nearby tree where he had been watching her. He called out in alarm, but kept his distance. I cried out to N to go get some scissors, but ended up just running up the hill and indoors
myself where I grabbed a pair of safety scissors so that the bird wouldn't injure herself on the tips. I then ran pell-mell down to the water, passing KK who had almost reached the top. Both children ran after me calling,"Mommy! Mommy! What's wrong" Breathing heavily, and with shaking hands I once again grasped the bird around her body and tried to cut her free. Unfortunately, the line was wrapped too tightly, and I couldn't free her immediately. I decided to just cut the line a little long, and then try to work out the tangles from a better vantage point. Once I had the bird in my hand, the mate began to cry in distress, and the robin that I held valiantly tried to peck at my hands as I approached her neck with the scissors. She would grab at my fingers with her beak, and I am sure I would have been cut if it weren't for my gloves. It became clear that the line was really tangled, and I prayed aloud, repeating "Lord, please help me, please calm this little bird, please help me to free her." My children watched wide-eyed, K asking, "Quack-quack?" and N asking what I was doing. I tried to explain, "This little bird got caught in the fishing line, and mommy is trying to help her" Finally I located the end of the line stretched taught against the bird's throat, and I prayed I wouldn't cut her as I slid the scissors between the line and the skin of her neck. She would occasionally chirp out, and try to bite me, but I was able to unwind the line and pull it away. I released her and, with a flutter, she flew up to a branch. She perched there for a moment suspiciously surveying me and catching her breath before flying off. I breathed a sigh of thanks and relief as I walked up to the house on shaky legs.

It's amazing how even in
this the Lord's hand was there. He knew how I had felt about those baby birds, and although I couldn't save them, he let me play a part in saving another robin's life. And maybe she has some little babies somewhere that were waiting for her to come back, and now they are saved too. How great is our God!


Heather said...

How great is our God, indeed! Thanks for the lovely post Daisy.

The Family K. said...

What an inspiring, well-written post. Thanks for sharing!

EEEEMommy said...

Every little sparrow...or robin as the case may be. :)
How great, indeed!
You're such an excellent writer!

Soo said...

Our God is truly amazing! Thanks for sharing Daisy!