The End of the Saga

Well. The little bird didn’t make it. When I opened the front door this morning to get the paper, the hatchling was upside down on our front porch. He was alive, and the mama and papa sparrow were frantically swooshing about. I shut the door and ran back inside for my computer. I re-read what I’d learned a couple of weeks ago, that sometimes, when he gets big and has enough feathers, a hatchling falls or is purposely nudged out onto the ground, and in that case shouldn’t be touched because the parents will watch over it for a few days until it flies.

Unless the hatchling is in an unsafe place. In that case, it is appropriate to find a safe place for it nearby, either back in the nest or, if a nest can’t be found or reached, then in a little box with newspaper shreddings placed in a bush off the ground. I watched out the window for a while as the baby bird struggled to get off its back and the parents swooshed about. So I went outside with soft gloves and turned the bird over, then went back inside. (I’d read it is a myth that birds will reject a hatchling touched by humans.) I didn’t want to set it on the ground because we have an outdoor cat on our block that is often on our property.

About a minute later, the little bird started shaking (it’s unseasonably cold here in northern Illinois) so I went out and placed it back in his nest, careful to make sure its feet were under its body, as the info I found suggested I do.

This evening, I checked again and he’s dead. Couldn’t help the tears for awhile; a bit angry toward nature, as we’ve been watching the little one for awhile now, from egg to quite a feathered hatchling–the only one to have survived from the batch of six eggs. He even outlived the cowbird egg. Of course, it all seems unfair. I thought for a few moments that next year I wouldn’t hang planters, but one has to have hope. Though from now on it will be in the form of bird houses.

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23 thoughts on “The End of the Saga

  1. Oh, I am sad for the little sparrow family. Thanks for letting all your readers know how the story played out.

  2. Jessica, I learned a lot about hatchlings from your post. Mostly, I learned about kindness and compassion which you showed toward the helpless little thing. How fortunate for your children to have a mom who cares to model such kindness.
    Best,
    Lynne

  3. I’m not sure a bird can think like this, but… I imagine the hatchling was grateful to be back where it first experienced comfort from its parents. You were right to take action and place it away from harm.

  4. So bummed!! Nature is cruel! I see many cowbird-proof bird houses in your future. 😉 I re-placed a baby robin in it’s nest about a week ago at my neighbors house. Mom and dad were watching me from the roof tops and came over with some food soon after I got away. I told my neighbor if it gets booted from the nest again, I’m not putting it back. Then there’s a reason! I do wonder what happened to the little guy. Better luck next year!! (sounds like a true Cubs fan! LOL!)

  5. So sad, but thanks for sharing. I’m interested to know how you explained all of this to your kids (if you did) and how they took it. I remember a similar experience from around first grade, I think, and I was so sad for the robin. And of course, now I worry about how to explain these types of things to my own son when the time comes.

  6. Our first experience with baby birds being pushed out of the nest and onto the lawn was a little scary, especially with the giant lawn mowers that push through. I’m not sure if the little guys made it, but I hope they did.

  7. Oh crap. I’m sorry Jess. I know exactly how you feel. We recently found a robin’s egg, unbroken and quite far from its nest. The kids and I, by way of a ladder and a kid up in the tree, got it back in the nest and we are crossing our fingers we weren’t too late in our rescue mission. Life is precious but with a hefty side of cruel. 😦

  8. I had been admiring the momma bird carefully guarding your hanging basket, and am so sorry to hear about the outcome. Beautiful nest photos! Our homemade bird house right outside our window has seen a lot of action in the past month or so. We wished would could have seen the nest inside, or catch a glimpse of the baby birds. Now the parents and the action have all subsided. Kind of sad, but we are looking forward to the next visitors. Many years ago, not knowing better, I scooped up a baby bird that I thought had fallen from the nest. I placed it in a shoe box with a heating pad underneath. I fed it with an eye dropper ’round the clock and even brought it to work with me to keep my eye on its safety. It survived three days with me. I was so sad and felt so responsible when it died. I get what you are saying about interfering with nature. It is difficult to step aside and not try to help. Thanks for the cow bird education.

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