I've been meaning to post about this for a while now, but I think today is the perfect day for it. It's the perfect day because it was Easter week of 2009 that we were befriended by the tiniest little bluebird we named "Fievel." (Yes, thanks to some lovely people on a Bluebirds forum at the time, I discovered that if Fievel were to be placed in a Beatrix Potter story he'd definitely be wearing trousers and not a dress).
For years.... at our house in Spring, Texas ..... we had two bluebirds that always built a nest in our backyard. We named them Duncan and Rose. Sadly, in 2009 Duncan was without Rose and caring for the little baby bluebirds on his own. He wasn't feeding Fievel very much. Fievel was the runt compared to his siblings, and we feared he wouldn't make it. Nature can be cruel like that.
That Easter Sunday we had an unusual spot of chilly and extremely rainy weather with high winds. It was raining cats and dogs and there were tornado warnings everywhere. We didn't know what to do. Before that nasty weather arrived on our doorstep, we had decided to do our best to step back and let nature run its course. So far Duncan was still the caretaker here. Mom and I were just keeping Fievel away from those big dogs next door and the busy street; a perfectly humane thing to do I think. We tried to just have faith that Duncan would take over and teach the little guy to fly.
That didn't happen, and we quickly realized that there was no way Fievel would survive in those conditions. Truly, it was like Tropical Storm weather out there but with cold temperatures. (By this time Fievel refused to stay inside the birdhouse, so he was open to the elements). It's one thing to sermonize that letting nature run its course is the right thing to do, but until you yourself EXPERIENCE having to make that decision... well, if you have any heart and compassion at all you'll choose a chance at life over witnessing certain death the next morning. We couldn't allow this creature to starve to death, and being Easter Sunday there were no wildlife organizations open to call for help anyway.
So all I knew was that while there was still a heart beating inside that little chest, if I could help him I would. If Mom and I didn’t even try, we’d feel like accomplices to murder. That wasn't us being over-dramatic either. It was the nasty black and white truth. Whatever happened to him after he could fly.. now that we felt had to be left up to nature. Whatever happens, happens. Hopefully, if he'd survive that is, instinct would just kick in when it came to foraging for food. Surely he'd learn just from observing other birds.
During the day we tied a huge beach umbrella to a bench with some rope, to try to protect him from the elements, but it was a disaster. The high winds turned the umbrella inside out, even after nailing part of it to the fence to secure it.
Thank goodness there was a break in the weather after a few hours, and the sun came out. (This was when the videos I'll post below took place; that Easter Sunday).
That evening we put him inside the cat's crate inside my Mom's closet. We really didn't think he would survive the night, but at least inside he had a 50/50 chance. (And apart from the weather, we were worried about the big dog next door making a dinner of him. This dog was so fierce that they had to replace the fencing once because the dog would slam himself into the fence so hard; the same fence Fievel liked to make a little home for himself next to). Mom and I both didn't sleep a wink that night.
To our surprise, Fievel did survive the night. Duncan still came around with Fievel's sibling's (pictured below), but only once every evening at around 6:30. We fed Fievel every once in a while, but for the most part had faith that his Daddy and siblings would help him out. We didn't want to intervene more than was necessary, as this was a wild animal we're talking about and not something to make a pet of.
Thankfully, Fievel was okay in the end. He learned to soar like some eagle, and came back to visit us every once in a while.
I'll never forget his first visit. (April 15, 2009). That evening was the day he flew off on his own. Mom and I were worried for him because he wasn't with his Daddy and siblings. He was still a fledgling, and fledglings still need to be fed by their parents. That was the most depressing day. We felt like our child had gone off to college and was all alone and not knowing what to do or where to go. Thank goodness, that day I heard his little chirping. (It's true. Mom and I both could recognize his 'voice' by now. Like a mother knowing her child's cry). Mom was talking to the neighbors in the front yard when she heard Fievel calling. She hushed the neighbors, gasped, said "That's my baby!" and ran off. She told Dad to check the backyard for him, which is where I was.
We kept calling Fievel, like he was some dog or cat, and he kept answering. He finally swooped down on the first story roof of the empty house behind us. I mean, he was sitting there smack dab at the apex of that roof and talking to us.
Mom and I tried getting him to fly down so we could feed him, but instead he keeps talking to us before he flies up to the second story roof. It's as if he was showing off and saying "Look what I can do, Ma!" He was flying WELL, too. Just like a pro. Him landing on that first roof was such a sappy, beautiful, Heavenly Hallmark moment!
He didn't come down for food, so we knew that meant he was being fed somehow. He had to have found Duncan and his siblings during all those long hours he was away.
Honestly, that moment felt like something spiritual. It's only that Mom and I were so desperately worried for his well-being, and then right before sunset he pays us a visit. It felt very clear to us that he visited us that evening intentionally.
I often hope that the male bluebird we have visiting us these days is Fievel all grown up. It probably isn't, but you never know as they say that bluebirds do return to nest where they were born.
Here are a few videos of Mom's and mine's feathery friend. Wasn't he just too adorable for words?! He was so small. Were he a female, I'd have named him Thumbelina. Even pictures and video can't demonstrate how small he was. This bluebird was the size of my thumb.
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