“There was a baby bird in your tree we took down,” explained the tree man, pointing to the ground at the side of my house. “It’s there in its nest.”
Tucked under the downspout and against the bricks was a nest that held a rather large, fluffy, baby bird. Its home had vanished into the tree chipper, its mother wouldn’t know where to find it, and night was falling. Thunder grumbled softly and the sky flashed Morse code that a storm was near. Humidity hung in the air, thick and uncomfortably sticky.
“What should I do with it?” I felt I should know but I didn’t.
It was clear the baby was a robin. It’s grayish-brown feathers filled the nest entirely, but it still looked too young to fly. Its little beak opened and closed expecting food.
“You can just leave it there for the night,” said the man. I sensed the attitude was to leave it in nature as close to its original home as possible.
I knew instantly I was not leaving this motherless, little baby robin alone on the ground where it was completely helpless and unprotected. It wouldn’t survive the night. Should I take it inside with me? Was there someplace else I could leave it outside? Even though I hadn’t held the chainsaw, I still had destroyed its home. Mama robin wouldn’t find it.
Ilene is my neighbor who also very conveniently is a vet. She was outside trying to get her lawn mowed before it stormed. Lightning flickered more regularly in the sky. I couldn’t wait much longer. It was getting dark and the baby bird still had nowhere to spend the night.
“Ilene! Do you have a second?” I shouted above the motor and motioned in my direction. She stopped the mower. “I have a baby bird here.”
We talked over the options. No, she could not take it. They didn’t work with rescue animals at her clinic. There was a vet clinic off the beltline on Rimrock Road that was open twenty-four hours and took wild animals. That was a possibility. Finally, we decided it was best to put the bird and its nest cradled on top of an abandoned nest in a bush to the side of my house. It had a better chance there than on the ground. With flashlight in hand, we safely nestled it in.
My next job was to dig up a couple of worms for it and try to feed it. Sweat rolled down my face and back. I couldn’t see where I was digging. Multiple holes were appearing in my garden and there was not a worm to be seen. Why was it so hard to find a dang worm? This was crazy. I was crazy.
After about ten minutes I abandoned the worm quest. Plan D was now in motion. I would take the bird to the vet clinic.
Flashlight in hand, I retrieved the baby robin, put it in a box, and placed it on the floor on the passenger side of the car. Tired and sweaty, off I went, hoping the thunderstorm wouldn’t hit until I returned home. My mother’s voice spoke quietly in my head, “Don’t go. Stay in for the night. You’ll get wet.” But my mother wasn’t around anymore. It was just shy of a month since she died, but she was still there chattering away at me.
I didn’t mind.
Keep in mind, I also didn’t listen.
I knew my actions were some type of response to feeling alone and a deep need to fix the unfixable.
Baby bird made some sounds. “Tweet, tweet.” What was it saying? I didn’t speak bird but decided to tweet back anyway. “Tweet, tweet, tweet,” I said.
The sky let loose torrents of water which made it tough to see the road. It was one of those downpours where you feel like you’re continuously under a waterfall and the windshield wipers can’t keep up. All this felt so insane on several levels. Tweeting back to the little bird was somehow comforting. We tweeted back and forth for the rest of the trip until I found the clinic.
I covered my little bird with my coat and ran the box into the clinic. I suspiciously eyed an orange cat that was sitting on a bench just inside the door licking its paw. A woman at the front desk smiled and took the bird to the back room. That was it, I was done. I headed back out into the stormy night.
When I got back and buckled up in my car, I realized I hadn’t said good-bye to my bird.
Yep, I heard it.
Somehow that little animal had become mine in a time span of less than an hour. Maybe it was mine the moment I saw it on the ground . . . I don’t know. But I did know I had to dash back through the rain into the clinic so I could say good-bye.
I’ve been this way for a long time. I’ve learned to be okay with it.
“I’m back,” I announced as I dripped in front of the receptionist.
Foolishly I added, “I didn’t get to say good-bye to my bird.”
She stared at me for a long moment before disappearing into the back room and returning with the robin.
“Bye, bye,” I said. “Be a good little bird.”
I felt I needed to add a few tweets in there to make sure it understood. I already felt foolish, so there was no point stopping. “Tweet, tweet . . . tweet, tweet.”
I think it understood.
Somehow, I think my mother did, too.