Enter the dog. Roxie wants to go out. She can sense the helpless bird on the landing to our deck steps.
Enter the girl, the sister and the dad. They see the bird just before the dog does.
Grab the dog.
Help the bird.
And, that's where I enter.
"What on earth are you doing?" I asked astoundedly. I knew what they were doing, they were fiddling with nature. "That's a fledgling; you should leave it alone. It knows what to do from here."
"But Mom..." came the pleading voice of Lainie, "We can't just leave it to die!" The emotional cry brought a lump to my throat.
Lainie's Robin Rescue Project had begun. In the homeschooling world, this is the real hands on science.
First, we situated the little bird under the bush where the nest was. Then, we came inside and looked up a few things about Robin fledglings.
The mama Robin should have known where the fledgling was by his chirp, however, this one was apparently stunned by the fall onto the slate having remained on its back as if helpless.
Lainie became surrogate mama to the bird mixing some bread and water into a slurry and spoon feeding bird -- she was dubbed, Natasha. Don't ask me why.
She did this for several days -- two or three times per day.
This past Thursday, she was gone at her day school program, so I told her I would keep an eye on Natasha. Watching her mother bring worms in the morning to her siblings in the nest, I decided to see if Natasha would eat a worm. (This would be a very big deal for me -- I don't enjoy birds or worms as a general rule.)
I dug up some worms out of our vegetable garden, and proceeded to entice Natasha with them. She successfully ate two.
Much to my surprise, she perked up considerably and began to venture from her safe spot under the bushes, to hopping across the lawn into a tuft of grass that concealed her for the most part.
As she sat in that spot, she began chirping loudly. Then, I witnessed something remarkable: Mama bird, who had been ignoring little Natasha for almost 4 days, went into the yard, poked a worm out of the ground and fed it to Natasha!
Lainie came home just in time to feed Natasha one more time and say good-bye. Her work with the little bird was done. And, not long after feeding her that final bite, we couldn't find Natasha in our yard any longer. She had spread her wings and flown away. The next morning, Mama and little siblings in the nest were also gone.
What an experience, what a memory!
There was also a lesson in all of this -- we are stewards of God's creation, but we are also counted as more than all other creature in our image and likeness to God. Lainie (and our family) learned the joy of helping our fellow creatures and the sorrow of watching them leave the nest, so to speak, but we also learned of God's enduring love for all of us.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear.For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds! Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? (Lk 12: 22-26)In this verse from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus looks to God's care for his creation using birds as his example -- drawing from images that are commonplace and understandable. This description also provided an opportunity for me to show Lainie and her siblings how her actions were an imitation of God's love for his creation. She was being a good steward and a good and faithful servant.
God is knowable in creation; He gave us the ability to reason and faith to believe so that we might know and serve Him in and through the least among us in the created world.
Lainie got to know Him and serve Him in an extraordinary way through her care of Natasha.
Fly away little bird. Your work here is done. Thanks be to God.