A fledgling finch became my charge (for a little less than one day) yesterday afternoon. It left the nest at the exact same moment I took the dogs out for their afternoon potty run. Alarmed by how vulnerable it was against how clueless Haeley can be when it comes to personal space, I immediately took the dogs inside and moved the bird to a safer place (via a large cardboard box and leather gloves -- to minimize human exposure). When the finch parents didn't approach the box, I smacked myself with a "well duh" and returned the fledgling to the open ground, in a bit safer location of our raised garden bed. But night was falling and there was now no sight of the flinch parents. So Dawn and I decided to offer the hungry little bird mashed up mealworms and water (it took both).
Worried about the negative impacts of reduced food/water, we didn't want to risk leaving it outside. I put together a quick grass nest (again wearing the leather gloves) and we returned the bird to the box with the nest and a shallow dish filled with water. I honestly didn't want to interfere further, but (to my utter surprise) the bird hopped from a tall weed onto my finger and it refused to let go of me. We think it was sleepy (per bird sleep cycles) and in need of warmth. I tried a few times to dislodge it, but the bird held on. I didn't want to hurt it, so we decided it would do little harm to put the bird in the box and take it inside for the night. As added bonuses -- there would be no risk of predators and the bird would be warm.
After a quiet night, our fledgling finch adventure has a happy ending. We took it back out to the raised garden bed at first light -- as soon as I heard the first bird calls and chirps of the morning. We offered it a little more water and mealworms, which it took. Then we heard the calls of its flinch parents! Dawn and I retreated quickly inside. The parents seemed quite happy their baby was alive! They fed it (another amazing thing to watch) and encouraged it to fly from the garden to a low branch of one of our cherry trees. Dawn and I both saw this "first flight" and was it ever magical and awesome!! (I'm so glad I got to share it with Dawn!) I kept an eye out for it today, watching the parents return ever so often to feed and encourage it. And this afternoon, it flew off, into the next chapter of its life.
(FUN FACT: house finches can live up to 11 years! Pretty cool!)
That this experience parallels parts of my first Ick and Bot story is not lost on me. I sit here wondering if the universe is acting on my behalf. Perhaps, the universe is simply telling me that it approves of my story and that I should keep on with it. I honestly don't know. If nothing else, this experience has connected me more deeply to Bot, who takes on the responsibility of caring for and returning his own find to its rightful place/owner.
Regardless, thank you "universe" or "Mother Nature" or "my lucky stars" or whatever for giving me this experience. It was remarkable and humbling and I will carry the memory of it for the rest of my days. I wish that little bird a long, fulfilling life!