Of little girls and baby birds (Daily Flash entry for 2/12/11).
I sighed. "Okay, sweetheart, but remember what I told you. He probably fell because he couldn't fly very well, so his chances aren't very good."
Gently, I picked up the tiny bird from the bricks with one hand and placed it into the palm of the other. Above us, the mother fluttered about and her cries pierced my heart. Could any mother not understand her pleas for help?
We went inside and found a small box. I sent Gretchen to find an old washcloth to line it with, guessing that something soft would be best. I could feel its little heart pounding against my palm. "It's okay, little one," I breathed, not wanting to scare it any more than it already was.
Gretchen reappeared with the washcloth and placed it in the bottom of the box, and I carefully set the little bird down.
"Is it thirsty?"
"I don't know, sweetie. Find one of your tea cups and get some water, but don't give it to him just yet, okay?"
Gretchen ran off to her room. I opened the phone book, called a local veterinarian and explained the situation. Guessing at Gretchen's likely reaction, I was dismayed by the doctor's advice.
"I know it's hard, but it really is the best way," she concluded. I thanked her and hung up just as Gretchen came into the kitchen, carefully holding the tiny cup full of water.
"I called a bird doctor, honey," I began, "and she said it's best, if..."
Many tears later, I backed away from the bush where I'd placed the bird among the branches. For nearly an hour, Gretchen watched from the back door. Then...
"Mommy! His mommy came! His mommy came!"
"That's wonderful!" I hugged her, sharing her joy. "Come on; it's lunchtime."