or in our case, the swallow.
Every year we have a swallow couple that makes a nest right above our front door. We do knock it down once we know it is empty but apparently, they are loyal to their homebases. They return every single year and build in the exact same spot. It really doesn't bother me other than it makes a REALLY big mess on our front porch.
The last few days we have been finding eggshells on our steps. I actually thought the babies had already arrived, so that was a new twist. The nest is so high up; I cannot see what is in it. I just see the nest with feathers sticking out. Apparently there are baby birds.
Today I was watching our youngest run out to get the newspaper. It is "his job". He loves to do it. I had someone stop and ask once if we trained him to do that. Um, no. He isn't a dog. He just likes to do it. Anyway, as he was fetching the paper, I mean getting it for me :), I happened to notice a small bundle in our big flower pot which has no flowers right now. (It is too stinkin' hot...nothing can grow!) When I looked closer, I realized it was a baby bird. My heart stopped. Then I noticed it was breathing...barely. I felt a small panic attack come on as my dear little children all stood around me looking at the bird.
I finally decided to bring the baby bird in for a little bit until I had a chance to research how to help it. After all, we are in the hottest days of summer right now. I had someonegrab a shoe box, threw some dirt and leaves in it, and donned some rubber gloves and transferred the baby to the box. I then put a little water in a dropper and tried to feed Baby Bird. Oh, that poor baby. It kept stretching its little neck out, mouth wide open, squeaking. I felt SOOO helpless. I kept explaining to the kids that it was likely going to die. (One daughter, a "practical" child, immediately started planning its burial...)
After doing a little research (thumbs up to the two oldest children who also helped research via Google and a question/answer book), I realized that we were in way over our heads. Yet, I couldn't just dump it outside so that a neighborhood cat had its morning snack. Apparently baby birds eat every 15 or 20 minutes all day long. Not to mention, I have no clue what to feed a baby bird. I am thinking Cheerios is not the answer. So for a while we just fed it water. I felt so bad. It was so scrawny. And it was SOOO hungry. It would stretch its neck out just hoping for a real meal. Instead, it got water. (And all I could think of was that book "Are You My Mother?")
One thing I read while researching was that it is illegal to care for wildlife unless you are qualified. I just want to clarify, we had it in our house for just a few hours. That was as far as the care went. In fact, the other thing I kept reading was that it needed to be returned to its nest. I had always heard that once it was around humans, the momma bird will have nothing to do with it. According to my "research", that is a myth. I actually got our ladder and attempted to return it to its nest, but immediately ran into problems (beyond the fact that I was trying to do all of this in my pajamas). One is that the nest is REALLY high up. Another is that the ladder is wider than our steps. And the biggest problem is that I am highly afraid of heights. I know when to hold them, and I know when to fold them. I quickly brought the ladder back in and called for help. "Mark!"
Upon further reading, I read that baby birds need protein. I ended up mixing together some egg whites with a little milk which it seemed to take, but it was so very weak. My heart just ached. I got to where I was dreading looking in the box and a couple times was sure it had died.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Mark appeared, our hero in a cape. Okay, no cape. But still our hero. He leaned the ladder (closed) up against the house. I stood at the bottom and held it, and he climbed up and put Baby Bird back into the nest.
I have no false illusions. I am not really thinking the baby bird made it. It was so weak and in need of momma's care. Not to mention, a fall that far had to have hurt its little body. But we tried. I am just glad we spotted it when we did (which was a freak thing in itself) so we could at least give it a chance...
All of this to say...
Some days you get up and have no idea what kind of life lessons you will face or have the privilege of teaching your children. Lessons about life and death. About wild animals and their needs. About family relationships. About God and His creations. But some days those lessons present themselves, ready or not. And it is our job as parents to meet the lessons head on then to help our children navigate through them.
An interesting note: child 3 was the one who was the most concerned about the fact that the baby bird was NOT with its momma. She kept following me around the house, "Do you think the baby bird wishes it was with its momma?" "Do you think the momma bird wonders where the baby bird is?" The questions went on and on. Sometimes when we are having those talks, I wonder at what level we are really speaking. Is it about birds or is it about little girls from Guatemala? I don't know the answer, so I just try to affirm her fears whether they are truly for Baby Bird or for her.
So long story short, or maybe a short story long, that was our morning. What kind of life lessons did you get to face/teach today? :)