by Celia Kiewit
It was springtime 2012, and a pair of finches built a fine nest on my patio in, of all places, a fake plastic tree. They had been sitting on four eggs for the past month. Knowing they were about to hatch, I stayed away as much as possible and prayed all would be well with the little feathered family.
Apparently one night the wind blew hard enough to knock the tree over. I didn’t discover this until noon the next day. Four little guys had been dumped out on the lawn and were struggling in the sun for hours, ants circling, and the parents squawking nearby. Panicking, I scooped up the little creatures and cuddled three of them in my right hand against my chest, their little hearts beating as fast as my own.
In tears, with only my left hand to dial, I fumbled around trying to make some calls– 911, the fire department, fearing that both were an inappropriate use of the emergency line. Call the animal rescue people. How? I had the number for the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy and someone answered! The very kind person there gave me a number for an animal rescue group. No answer. Somehow I found another and another, but sadly, no answers. I was frantic.
Desperate, I dialed my friend, Sandy Shapiro. He gave me excellent advice and I performed “triage”, so to speak, put the kids back in the nest, placed it near the tree, in the shade, and away from cats. I retreated inside, hoping and praying that the parents would return.
They did, but only to look around as if lost and confused. The nest was in plain sight only three feet from the tree, but the little ones were quiet, traumatized, I’m sure, as was I. I cried again, carried Finch #4 around for a while, then buried it in the backyard, and finished doing the laundry to get my mind off my grief. Maybe if I leave them alone…
We’ve all witnessed something like this or heard tales of animal rescue and tragedy. Hawks, hummers, raccoons, bunnies ( and even sometimes coyotes) are frequent visitors or residents in my garden and probably yours as well. Some animals we welcome, others not so much. Oh well, the circle of life.
I cried some more, sad for the little family torn apart by the wind. Today in the material world, there is so much pain from too much or too little of this or that—food, water, money, jobs, etc. The ravages of war, hideous illness and disease, moral decay, and brutal storms are causing disaster everywhere. Critter concerns easily get shoved to the bottom of the list. We’ve all seen the Algalita photo of the dead Laysan Albatross chick with a stomach full of plastic, the dolphin dying on the beach, Mae West, the famous turtle with a shell in the shape of an hourglass due to the constraints of a plastic ring, and even whales that mistakenly eat plastic bags and nurdles.
Why fret over a few little birds? I told myself to get over it.
Two hours later, prepared for the worst, I took a last look in the nest and was amazed to find all three babies lined up side by side as if their little heads were on a pillow; not at all the way I left them for fear of handling them too much. All three hearts were beating! I ran to the phone and this time I reached Wildlife Rescue. I was encouraged to rush them to the Carlsbad Animal Shelter emergency facility. On the way, I prayed for a miracle while KPRI radio played softly– “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley duo, and The Eagles. Tears spilled again as, miraculously, I heard chirping for the first time!
Finch #1, 2, & 3 are doing fine. I hope I did the right thing. I respect nature, but I do not worship the earth. Because I take the Bible seriously and care about tending and keeping The Garden for next generations to enjoy, I try to tread lightly.