Childhood Memories: Raising a Baby Bird – #MFRWauthor

We’ve arrived at Week 21 of the #MFRWauthor blog challenge – thanks for hanging in there with me!

This week’s subject is about childhood memories. Luckily, this is an easy topic, so I didn’t have to think too hard, for once…

One of my favorite childhood memories involves a little guy like this.

A baby sparrow a little younger than this one literally fell into my life one afternoon when I was about nine years old.

Royal palm tree

Image By No machine-readable author/sourceprovided. Dtobias assumed (based on copyright claims). CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=446597

You see, I grew up in South Florida and our neighbors had a royal palm tree in their front yard. Royal palms are very tall and skinny, with their fronds and branches at the very top of the tree.

The tree in the yard across the street from my house was special because it had a sparrow’s nest hidden in it, although I didn’t know it at the time.

One evening while in my front yard, I noticed another neighbor’s cat was laser focused on the fronds at the top of the palm tree. As I watched the cat, something fell out of the tree and disappeared – with a tiny thump – into the tall grass at the base of the tree.

I realized a baby bird fell out of a nest at about the same time the cat figured it out. He immediately went into predator mode and streaked to the tree, pounced on his prize, and started to slink away clutching a baby sparrow in his mouth.

I ran across the street, charging the cat while waving my arms and screaming, “drop the bird!” like a lunatic. The cat took one look at me and wisely decided to seek easier prey. To my astonishment, he actually let go of the bird!

In the tall grass.

Where the bird sank like a rock and disappeared into the greenery (thank heavens the neighbor wasn’t out mowing the lawn at the time *shudder*).

I got down on my hands and knees, then combed back and forth in the grass until I found the teensy baby bird. He was panting hard and had a tiny dot of blood on his face from the cat’s teeth. I scooped him up in my hands and trotted back to my house, hollering for my mom the whole way.

God bless my mother! She had to have been horrified when I showed up with a fledgling sparrow. I’m sure she wondered what in the heck she was going to do with the tiny creature, but she didn’t even blink (that I remember). Instead, she got a shoe box out and lined it with paper towels, then put the bird in it. She put a lit nightlight-sized bulb in a strainer that rested in the corner of the shoe box so the chick could stay warm.

Not long before this, there had been a story in the newspaper about The Bird Lady – a local woman who knew how to take care of wild birds that were injured. My mother somehow dug up this woman’s phone number (keep in mind, this wasn’t easy in the pre-Internet era). She talked to the lady, found out how and what to feed the newly-christened Petey Bird, and went off to the grocery store for supplies.

I remember her feeding Petey Bird several times a day – and she probably fed him far more often than I realize. Think about it – mama and papa birds are almost constantly feeding their chicks. I bet my mom was even feeding him in the middle of the night while I blissfully slept.

In any case, Petey Bird thrived under my mother’s care. He also got a lot of attention from me, and soon my mom had to borrow a bird cage because he needed to learn to perch on branches.

Adult sparrow

Image By Fir0002 – Own work, GFDL 1.2, ttps://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7202303

When he graduated to being in the birdcage, he took up residence on our dining room table. Every day after I got home from school, I took him out of the cage, delighting in how he could perch on my finger or my shoulder or even on my head.

As he grew, he flitted from the cage to me to the lamp to wherever he could land, until he slowly learned to fly. And, when he was fully grown, he was as handsome as the fellow in the image to the right.

Sadly, my wise mother wouldn’t let me keep Petey Bird. She told me (rightly so) that he was a wild bird and needed to be outside, living his life where he belonged. So, one day, I reluctantly took the cage outside and he hopped out for the last time, then flew into our orange tree.

For about a month after I released him, he’d come out of the tree and sit on my finger if I called him, which gave me comfort that he was doing all right on his own. Then the day came when he didn’t come to me… I like to imagine that Petey Bird found his mate and settled down to raise some fat, healthy babies.

What are some of your childhood memories? Share them in the comments section!

This is a blog hop. Visit some of the other authors on this list and see what they remember about their childhood:

23 thoughts on “Childhood Memories: Raising a Baby Bird – #MFRWauthor

  1. Sherry Lewis says:

    I am absolutely certain that Petey met a beautiful girl bird and set up house with her. It’s the only possible explanation. Great memory. Your mom was amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • RobinMichaela says:

      I agree, Meka! I’m not sure what I would have done if I were in her place. And she never was an “animal person”, so it probably took a lot for her to raise him. But, he thrived, so she did her job well!

      Like

  2. Ellie Mack says:

    Great memory! I brought home stray puppies, stray kittens, a few lizards, bunnies but never a bird. That was cool that he came and sat on your finger afterward. I agree with Mary’s comment above – this would be a great children’s book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • RobinMichaela says:

      Thanks, Ellie. Yes, it’s amazing to me (as an adult) that he came and sat on my finger. I was always pestering my parents for a pet. They weren’t “pet people”, so this was the closest I got besides having a gerbil!

      Like

    • RobinMichaela says:

      Yes, she was, although I didn’t realize it at the time. The baby bird barely had pin feathers (meaning no real feathers yet). It must have been a huge pain for her to take care of it, but she never complained (at least to me. Dad might have gotten an earful, lol).

      Like

  3. Linda McLaughlin says:

    That’s a darling story, Robin. My folks adopted a nest of sparrow when I was in my twenties. The parent birds had built the nest under the eaves of their patio, and the nest fell out. My folks put it in the proverbial shoe box and set it on top of the air-conditioner, which we weren’t using at the time. Fortunately, he mama bird hung around and fed her babies, but the chick were quite tame. Somewhere I have a photo of my tough-guy dad cradling a tiny bird in his hand. Eventually, they flew away.

    Liked by 1 person

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