Where the Wild Things Are
I am saddened to report that the injured squirrel died this morning. I was pretty sure last night that his injuries were too extensive for recovery. When I came home from lunch today I buried it in the back yard under a tree. It was while returning the shovel to the garage that I made an unusual discovery.
There on the cement floor of the garage was a tiny bird egg – smaller than the tip of my thumb. I could see one small crack, as one would well expect to find in an egg lying on a hard cement floor. I stooped over to pick it up and right before my fingers closed around it, it moved. No way! I squatted down for a closer look. It moved again. The darn thing was trying to hatch!
I carefully picked up the egg using one of the washcloths I had warmed the squirrel with the night before. I carried it out into the sun and watched in amazement as this tiny little life pushed its way into the world. It was incredible. It pushed, then stretched, then rested, then started over again. After about a half hour, it finally succeeded in separating the eggshell into two pieces. Several frantic shakes and rolls freed it completely.
There lay one of the most precious – but ugliest creatures I have ever seen! Use your imagination to create a cross between ET and the tiniest rotisserie chicken in the world, and you’ll get the general idea. But it was alive and seemingly healthy.
I called a nearby wildlife rehab group and listened to their recorded instructions. Wild baby birds are extremely difficult to hand raise. Their best chance of survival is to be reunited with the parents. And contrary to the commonly held belief, the mother bird does not always reject a baby that has been handled by a human.
My next task was to locate the nest in my garage. I knew that some wrens had been frequenting the area, but had never noticed a nest. I sat quietly in the door and waited. Sure enough, a wren flew in. After flying from perch to perch, she must have decided that I was harmless and she flew to her well-hidden, difficult to reach nest. I waited a few more minutes and saw her fly away again. I ran to borrow a ladder from a neighbor and returned quickly. I situated the ladder, carefully balanced the baby bird in the washcloth, and climbed up to the nest. The nest was cleverly contructed in a little nook that provided a perfect place to leave the washcloth that held little ET. The nest was partially hidden behind a beam, so I couldn’t see inside. I reached from the top of the ladder, preparing to hand-deliver a baby (how’s that – a human playing stork!) Little did I know that Mama Bird had returned in my brief absence! Just as I was in my most precarious position, she let out an angry shriek and flew right at me. So help me, I think she changed the part in my hair! I shrieked, too, and regained my balance just in time. Little ET was none the worse for the experience. I wished him well and left him at his mother’s front door.
I returned to my observer’s position and waited. It took a bit longer for her to trust me again, but she finally returned to her nest. Instead of hopping back in, she spent a great deal of time inspecting her home delivery. She chirped a different song. I didn’t understand it, of course, but I choose to believe that she was welcoming her baby home, or perhaps scolding it for rolling too far away from the nest without permission.
I will never know the outcome of this adventure. There is no way to see into the nest, and probably no way to tell one ET from another if I could. And so I choose to write a happy ending to the story. Mother and baby are reunited and they live happily ever after. (As long as I keep Levi away!)
I can’t begin to express how much this moment of grace meant to me today. To see the birth (or hatching) of a brand new creature under such adverse conditions was nothing short of a miracle. I’m still pondering the meaning of the message, but I am quite certain that God spoke to me today.
I saw God in a miracle of nature. Where did you see God today?