One Small Bird

Several evenings ago, I was working upstairs, and Stephen was preparing dinner downstairs, when he called me to come help him.
“What is it?” I yelled, hoping to have time to finish the page I was writing.
“Just come!” he said quietly but definitively.
So I saved what I had written and scurried downstairs.
“A little bird flew in the open veranda door, and I need help getting it out of the house,” he whispered when I arrived.
It had been hot and humid all day, and as soon as it had begun cooling off a bit, Stephen had opened the large sliding doors on our veranda to encourage some cool air to wander in. A tiny redstart had come in along with the breeze, and now huddled, shivering, her break open, in a corner.
My first response was to turn around and walk away. The tiny bird looked in bad shape and I didn’t want to watch it die. But a minute later, I felt drawn to help the sweet thing, so I walked back over and began talking quietly. “Don’t worry, poor little bird,” I squeaked. “We’ll get help for you. You’ll be O.K.”
“You might be frightening it,” Stephen advised. “Why don’t we call Jeanne?”
Jeanne, a friend who is passionate about birds and bird rescue, lives right up the cobblestoned street from us. Of course, she’d know what to do.
Within five minutes Jeanne was knocking on our door. She tiptoed in and walked slowly over to the bird’s corner. “She doesn’t look too good,” Jeanne advised. “I’ll go get a small box and hot water bottle. If she’s still alive tomorrow, I’ll take her to the rescue when it opens again.
Several minutes later Jeanne was back, and walking slowly up to the bird, which thrashed around in the corner as Jeanne approached. When it realized it couldn’t fly away, it settled down, and Jeanne was able to take it gently in her hand, place it in the little box, and close the lid.
Suddenly a heavy silence fell over the room. Nobody talked, and the little bird didn’t make a sound. We stood like that for a moment or two, all wondering if the bird would live through the night. Probably not, I thought.
Then, instead of taking the bird home with her, Jeanne decided to leave the box open, in a safe spot in our garden. “That way, if she recovers, she can just fly away,” she explained.
“Good idea,” Stephen and I agreed.
The three of us walked downstairs and out to our garden, where we began discussing just where it was safest to set the box. “The fig tree?” I suggested.
“What about on the stone wall?” Stephen said.
“Hmm,” Jeanne thought. Then bent down and deposited the box on the grass. “Let’s check to see how the little bird is doing,” she said, as she opened the box flaps.
The tiny bird was wedged into a corner.
Then, with the three of us bent over the box, peering and very concerned, suddenly the bird took off, its wings flapping furiously, its tiny body rising above the ground and into the blue sky, higher and further, until the redstart was just a tiny dot in the blue dome of the overhead.
I still feel that thrill of relief and joy whenever I think about that one, small moment and the sight of the wounded bird taking off and flying away.


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