Goodbye, Little Baby Bird

I came across a baby bird yesterday in the morning as I was leaving for work. The bird looked horrible, having spots where the feathers were missing altogether. I didn’t know if it had been attacked or was just still in the process of growing and developing – and so hadn’t grown in all its feathers yet. I felt bad for the bird, but as I got closer, a few large, adult birds appeared that made a loud ruckus and kept hopping down branches towards me. I assumed these birds were watching over the baby. I thought maybe it had fallen out of its nest and they were still guarding it.

I came home for work around 11:30 and the bird was still there, in the same spot on the ground beneath the tree. The temperature has been up in the high 90s and the low 100s this week, so I was worried that it would overheat and die. I decided to turn the hose on and at least cool off the ground around it and maybe let a light spray hit the baby too.

As soon as the water came on, the baby started hopping towards it – towards me. This was when I realized it had something wrong with one of its legs, injured or maybe broken. I wanted to help it so much but I still had to go back to work. So I got a small platter and filled it with water and set it near the bird. But it kept trying to come towards me, even after I’d put the water hose away – the bird kept flapping and flopping, working its way closer and closer. Finally, the bird just flopped into the little platter of water and stayed there.

After work when I got home, the bird was still there. I moved it into the garden where I was hoping it might be old enough to peck out some bugs or something to eat off. I went inside and started reading what I could about orphaned birds. Using the information I’d read, I found an old basket I had and was planning to create a makeshift nest for the baby. The idea was that you could hang the basket in the tree where it would be safe from dogs or cats and maybe its parents would return to care for it again.

I found an old nest in my backyard that I knew had been long abandoned and I took it and placed it inside the basket. Then I went back to the baby and put it inside the basket and its new nest. It began screeching, its beak wide open… the adult birds in the tree began making a ruckus again. I was hopeful that they were watching over it and that maybe they’d hear its hungry calls and feed it. So my boyfriend and I hung the basket in the tree and went inside.

We watched from the window but the adults didn’t go the screeching baby. I didn’t know what to do for it. It hasn’t rained in so long that there was no hope of finding any worms in the dry, hard dirt. I tried digging a little way down but I couldn’t find anything. It was so hungry… it’s little beak open wide, it’s calls so loud and urgent.

I left it in the nest overnight. I clung to the hope that its parents might come back. This morning when I checked on the baby… it was dead in the nest. I couldn’t help but cry… I think it wanted to live. I think if I’d have been able to find something to feed it, maybe it would have had a better chance.

I hate the way nature works sometimes. So many adult birds and yet none willing to feed a starving baby. My boyfriend pointed out that maybe those birds weren’t watching over it at all and that maybe they’d shoved it out of the nest. Maybe they’d attacked it, causing the bare spots all over its body. Maybe they’d killed its parents.

It hurts to see so much suffering in something so small though. Even something that most people might overlook or disregard saying, “that’s just the way nature works.” To me, it’s still hard to accept. I wanted that baby bird to live, to fly one day.

I guess its times like this that I realize just how naive I can be.

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