Mother's Day, May 10, 2008, brought not only good times with the family but an unexpected challenge too. After mass and a celebratory lunch, I walked my dog around the block and came upon a chick on the lush front lawn of a neighbor. To be precise, my dog sniffed it out. I would not have noticed it otherwise. It was featherless and smaller than my thumb. The wind had been blustery, and the chick must have fallen out of its nest. I continued home, and observed the area for the return of the mother. She might have been out digging up some food to feed this chick, and my presence will deter her from approaching. After thirty minutes, I decided to act. The sun was beating down on it, and I knew that cats prowled the neighborhood.
The rule, when finding such a chick, is to put it back in the nest because the mother can't do that. Or, if the nest itself fell off, then one has to replaced the nest back in the tree. My problem was that no nest was in sight---on the ground or up in the trees. So, I put on a pair of gloves and placed the chick on a bed of soft material and took it home. The chick crawled and chirped, opening its mouth as if wanting to be fed. I drove to CVS and purchased a plastic children's syringe and fed it with grounded bran cereal mixed with water in very small quantities. Next thing, I telephoned the local SPCA to ask if they would take the bird. They expressed their regrets, and told me that their primary mission was geared towards preventing and acting against animal abuse. I tried the local animal shelter, but they had closed for the day. So, my Plan B was to keep this bird overnight, feeding it every three hours, and ring the shelter again the next morning. The weather forecast showed that rain was on its way overnight, convincing me further that it was worse to leave it out there on the grass. Anyway, when I left for my early morning dental appointment the next day, the chick was still alive. By the time I returned two hours later, it had passed away. I felt really bad for it. There will always be questions about feeding it the right stuff, feeding it enough, keeping it warm enough, and whether leaving it to fend for itself was the better option. Finally, I made the sign of the cross over its body with my finger and buried it in our flowerbed. May you fly in heaven!
"I could not have slept tonight if I had left that helpless little creature to perish on the ground." (Reply to friends who chided him for delaying them by stopping to return a fledgling to its nest.) ~ Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States