A fledgling’s last gasps
choking on seeds of bounty
from the human hand
I wrote this Haiku in memory of one day when my husband and I found a fledgling bird. I’m not sure if it was a starling or a robin. We only knew that it had fallen from its nest like leaf from a branch in an autumn breeze. There it lay on the ground, its mouth open for its next meal from its mother. We tenderly laid it down on a comfortable bed of tissues in a box which we kept out of the way of cats. Then we pondered how to save this small, helpless creature. Well, we remembered that birds ate seeds, so we found seeds to fill the fledgling’s small mouth with. It choked them down. Then we reconsidered whether that was such a good idea, so we thought about it some more and decided that the bird’s mother probably presented her baby with chewed worms and the like. In that case, it would be more appropriate to feed the little thing some wet cat food. Indeed, it went down well, so we kept it up – offering our little pet nibbles of wet Fancy Feast. I’m not sure how long we had this tiny baby, but we found that our generous meals were too much for the little tike. The shock of its fall from the nest, the stress of being an orphan in the hands of giants, and the inability to digest the seeds and cat food finally took the tiny bird’s life.
This experience taught me that sometimes nature knows better than I about what to do with the weak and the sick. It occurred to us that maybe the fledgling had been pushed out of the nest for a reason, making its survival unlikely to begin with. Moreover, if this chick had been healthy and had somehow just fallen out of the nest by accident, it is still unlikely we could have nursed it back to health and least likely its mother would have taken it back since it would have stank of human sweat. I realized finally that nature is not as cruel as we were. In our attempts to comfort the ailing fledgling, we simple loved it to death. The other option for this small patient of ours would have been a swift yet quiet and private death in a soft pile of leaves, not a cardboard box in a foreign land.
Copyright © 2017 Barbara Harris Leonhard