Philosopher with baby bird

My garden has always been a place of rest, recovery, and salvation for me, but it plays an even greater role for the many creatures that fly, crawl, or scurry about within its boundaries. One of the major draws is the Celtic birdbath that provides a daily offering of fresh water for drinking and bathing. It is this birdbath – overgrown with algae and leaning so far to right after years of water has intruded its foundation – that lies at the heart of this story of serendipity. It is this birdbath that beckoned me into the yard on this breezy and overcast day for its regular filling. Even though I had many tasks that needed to be completed and errands to be run, and there was still a small amount of usable water in the structure, I couldn’t stop my brain from cycling round and round over this birdbath. “Weird,” I thought,” but no big deal…I’ll just fill it!” So out I went into the backyard, with four-footed canine friend in tow, and immediately spotted a tiny bird rustling in the tall grass just a few paces off the doorway.

For some reason, I just knew this bird was downed, even before I saw her try to fly. So I approached at a normal pace, just to see her reaction…and, not surprisingly, she flapped her wings frantically but failed to journey further than a couple inches off the ground. My heart beat with anticipation realizing that my wannabe bird dog, was going to chomp down on this tiny winged morsel at the first opportunity.  I had only one chance to make the play and beat Dublin the Dog to the finish line, but could I do it? As weeds, wind, and fur rushed by I threw my cupped hands to the ground in wild desperation and then froze…peering out from between my joined hands was the tiny bird, safe and sound inside my finger hut. I carefully scooped her up as Dublin the Dog looked on in lust and fascination at the juicy treat just inches away in the palms of my hands.

Upon taking the delicate creature behind closed doors, away from the drooling hunter, I was able to examine her in close detail. She had not a nick or scratch on her, but a very unusual tangling had occurred between her tail feathers and her left leg and wing. Somehow, the downy threadlike feathers of her tail had completely encircled her leg and bottom part of her wing, creating a strong knot that entrapped the left side of her body. Fortunately, she did not mind being handled, as I delicately snipped the looped threads, to free her leg and wing. In fact, she almost seemed to enjoy the process, and when it was over perched on my finger like a queen on a throne. I pet her gently on the head, waiting patiently for her to launch, and finally she did….landing up high on the shower curtain rod. That flight alone was enough proof that I could set her free amongst her feathered friends in the garden.

I carried her outside, half delighted, but half terrified for what she would face in the wild. She paused for a second in my palm, looked up at me, and flew gracefully up to a tree branch. I wished her luck and turned back to the house, trying to remember what had brought me out to the yard in the first place. “Oh yeah, the birdbath,” I thought, and smiled to myself at the “happy accident” that had just taken place.

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