Baby Birds

December 20, 2008

When thoughts of mall shootings and car accidents start to overwhelm me, I try to stop and remember the baby birds.

When Moo was just a few weeks old, my fear of Bad Things threatened to overtake me.  Every perfectly happy moment holding my sweet angel baby was interrupted by the realization that loving somebody so much made me so vulnerable to complete and utter destruction if something bad (please God no) ever happened.  I couldn’t breathe.

In one such moment, I handed Moo over to Herbie and headed outside for fresh air.  After a few deep breaths, I grabbed the hose to water our neglected pants.  I held the hose over the fairyduster, and just as the water splashed into the soil, I saw something move.  I yanked the hose away and peered into the pot.  Two tiny baby birds, no bigger than my thumbs, squirmed helplessly.

I looked into the hanging pot above and saw an abandoned nest, no sign of mommy bird.  The babies must have fallen out of the hanging pot, and thankfully there was a soft bed of soil just below to catch them.

What to do?  I ran inside, blabbering about baby birds to Herbie, and got a shoe box.  Somehow, I coaxed the baby birds inside.  Then I gave them some water from an eye dropper and smushed up some bread and mixed it with milk, because that’s what we used to do when I found injured birds as a child.  But these weren’t doves with sprained wings, these were tiny helpless creatures with beaks tinier than Moo’s smallest toe, gaping open and dying for food.  I knew I couldn’t help them, but I had to help them.  So I got on the phone and found a veterinary hospital where I could take the birds.  A group called Liberty Wildlife would pick them up from there and care for them.

Herbie, Moo and I piled in the car and drove out to the vet hospital, me holding the precious cargo in my lap with one hand, and caressing Moo’s fingers with the other.  When we got to the hospital, I signed some papers and handed over the birds to the nurse, who assured me they’d be just fine.

I rode home feeling enormously relieved.  I’d saved the baby birds.  Everything would be okay.  But then back home, I got on the Internet and looked up Liberty Wildlife.  They have a handy dandy page on their website that tells you what to do if you find an abandoned baby bird.

I did everything wrong.  You’re not supposed to give a baby bird milk.  You’re not supposed to give a baby bird bread.  You’re absolutely not supposed to give a baby bird water in an eye dropper, which can result in aspiration, causing a bird to die.  Oh God.  It occurred to me that maybe the nurse was lying, telling me the birds would be okay when she knew they were doomed.

All night I worried about the baby birds, wondering if they were alive, if their little mouths were still gaping.  I would never know.  I wondered if I was making huge mistakes with Moo like I made with the baby birds.  I wondered what would happen to them.  I wondered what would happen to Moo.

And then at 3 a.m., as I rocked Moo back to sleep once again, I realized something.  I had to believe that those baby birds would be okay.  I couldn’t know what would happen to them, just like I cannot know what will happen in Moo’s future.  But unless I want to miss every happy moment in her life, I have to believe that everything will be okay.  I have to believe that those baby birds are right at this moment sleeping in a nest in a big beautiful tree somewhere in the East Valley, and I have to believe that Moo will have a happy and healthy life.

It’s fear or hope, isn’t it?  I must remember to choose hope.  The baby birds are just fine.  And so is my Moo.

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2 Responses to “Baby Birds”

  1. kristi Says:

    I HATE being so vulnerable. For over 6 years, now… it’s a whole new kind of life.

    It’s still so worth it.

  2. Katie Burke Says:

    I know you know how fortunate you are to have Moo, Mama Rose. Also, she’s lucky to have YOU. Not every mother has the love you have to give.

    I love what you wrote here. It will bring Moo tears of such joy when she reads it later in life.


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