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Saturday, September 15, 2012

My little Birdie

The bird was barely visible in the grass, but I happened to notice her little beak and eyes peeking out from between the blades of grass. When I put down my finger for her and she got on it I fell in love.

I said if she was still out on the same limb at the end of the day we should take her home, because it was supposed to be cold and rainy and she couldn't really fly yet - just a few inches off the ground.

She was still there at the end of the day so we took her with us. I just held her on my finger in the truck and then we went to the garden and she rode around on my shoulder while I picked basil.
 She talked up a storm the whole time tweet tweeting in my ear. I whistled back.
My little bird friend for a couple of days...

I made a cage for Birdie out of things I had around: a milk crate and the screens from the front door that I had just taken down because it is getting too cold for screen doors now that it is September. To make birdie more at home I furnished her new habitat with perching limbs, grapes and raspberries, zinnia and a seed stalk. I wanted to take good care of this tiny creature. I also put in my shirt thinking maybe Birdie would feel more secure with my scent around. Birdie seemed pretty content to ride on my shoulder, but I needed to have a safe place for her when I was cooking dinner, and sleeping, things like that.
She liked to sit in her zinnia as if it was her nest.

The problem was I had to go to work by noon the next day... I work at a childcare center. I took birdie with me and the three year olds went to visit him/her - Birdie was very chirpy and happy most the day. 

But later when he starting sleeping a a lot I started to worry a lot, and then by 5:00 when I checked on her, she was not doing well... I tried to feed her more rehydrated cat food from her dish but she was too weak and died in my hand, I cried. I didn't know I was going to fall in love with this bird and have so many hopes for her to live and fly. I tried to pull myself together for the last 1/2 hour of work. I do think she liked her cage though when not riding on my shoulder. She could fly a little. We had a good couple of days. She always sang when I came near her, even when she was half asleep. I didn't really know how to take care of a baby bird. I tried to learn fast soon after I found her. I have learned that baby birds are very fragile and hard to take care of.

I was hoping to to raise her till she was ready to fly off on her own -maybe in a way I did. Baby birds I have learned need round-the-clock care though, and we are harvesting honey right now and getting ready to go on a trip... I don't know how I would have taken care of her for a few days longer. I know I have lost a friend, but I will always have the friendship we shared. I learned a lot from that bird.Once back home I was thinking about how to bury her and decided to put her in our compost so that she would go into our garden and come up as a flower. I laid her on top with her zinnia, and covered her with hay. Every time I go out to put something in the compost I think of her and the passing of time and how that will transform her dead body into rich soil that will grow food and flowers. In that way and in my memory Birdie lives on, she flies away.

There are some things I learned about love, life and death from my little bird that I’m not sure I can put into words. Our bond was that she trusted me and put herself in my care and I did the best I could for her.
         On the second day, later in the afternoon she was not doing so well. I remember she was sleeping with her head under her wing, and it looked to me that some of her feathers were not looking so fresh, as if she’d been sweating. I don’t know if birds sweat, or get fevers, but it seemed to me like a sign of distress. Every time I checked on her after that it seemed she was sleeping, and that made me start to worry. Did I feed her often enough? Was she able to get her water? Was she having bad indigestion because of the kefir and bread I fed her after the bee larva was gone and before I learned from a bird expert to feed her cat food and not milk or bread?
         When she was sleeping and I came in to check on her – I was at work taking care of children – she would always give me a few soft chirps as if to reassure me that she was okay. She might have been telling me, “It’s okay for me to die. I am happy, I am loved, and I am too weak to continue. Tweet, tweet good-bye. Tweet, tweet I love you. Tweet Tweet thank you for being my friend.”
         But I was not ready to let her die. I picked her up and tried to feed her. She ate a little, perhaps only to please me. Then I tried to put her back in her cage to perch on a limb, but she was too weak and fell off wings searching for balance. and one wing got stuck in one of the openings of her cage. It wasn’t hurt I gently helped her out of the tangle. It was too stressful for her. Her legs kicked out and I knew then that she was dead. She was in my hand as she was dying and I cried for her, just feeling so sad that it was ending this way after only two days. I felt her spirit come back just for a moment as I cried. I could see then that she knew I was crying over her, grieving for her. It’s like she came back to take that last message of love from me, “ I miss you birdie, I love you, I wanted to see you grow up and fly free. And then she was gone her spirit rising into spirit.
         It is hard to say exactly what I learned from this experience but I felt that by being involved with this bird’s deep purity, pure love, and forgiveness … I felt sort of relieved from my worries about what I could have/should have done. I know from knowing her light heart that everything is o.k. the way it is. It’s how you live, not how long, and when you have a friend it is a wonderful life no matter what happens, because we are here to love.
         I’ve been dreaming of little birds ever since her death. This morning after dreaming of little birds chirping in a bush, I woke up and went outside. Standing there doing my morning stretches I saw and heard a peregrine falcon. We have seen this bird before flying to his same certain tree. This is the only time I have ever heard him making the sound of ringing sleigh bells as he flew though. I wondered if maybe he had actually had picked up some bells some place and was flying around with them. That is exactly what it sounded like, and later when he flew away he made the same bell ringing sound. My dream of little birds was ordinary but my waking experience hearing the bells of the falcon was magical like a dream.
         Another funny thing to note about this is that as I was sleeping last night at times half awake I was thinking how grateful I am that my ears are located so conveniently on my head so that I can tuck my loose hair behind them, and also for my glasses to rest on…and I thought it is so funny that I am most grateful for that when the real boon of ears is to hear with! And then in the morning my gratitude was rewarded with bells brought by falcon. He hee.
         I am reading The Plague by Albert Camus. On page 36 I came across this “the pulse becomes fluttering, dicrotic, and intermittent, and death ensues as the result of the slightest movement.” Yes, I thought, that’s how it was for my bird. Great book.