Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bye Little Bird

I'm catching up on some journal writing here, so this is a long post, but I had to document the story of the little quail bird.

Corey and I had a friend come visit us on Thursday (July2) afternoon. He went to his car to get something, and as he came back he said there was a dead bird in the street. Thinking it was a good opportunity to teach them something (I didn't know what specifically) I went out to get the dead bird out of the street. I saw that it was just a baby, it didn't look bloody or gross, so I decided I'd just pick it up and bring it to the front porch for our lesson. As I picked it up, it opened it eyes and turned it's head to look at me. It didn't have any problems that I could see, but obviously something was wrong cause it was left there in the street. It was a little baby quail. I looked around and didn't see the family anywhere. I called the kids to come out and see the little bird, and then I spent the rest of the evening stressing out about what to do about this little quail.

At first I thought it would die quickly, so I told the kids we should just hold it and give it some love as it waited to pass away. But Ethan decided to say prayers that it would stay alive and that we'd find it's family. I let the kids take over the situation and I went inside to clean/nurse/etc. An hour later, it was starting to rain a little bit and Ethan was in the driveway with the bird down on the sidewalk. I told him to pick it up and hold it while it waited to die - it can't walk. But he told me to come see that it was walking - it was chirping too - he said with a tear running down his cheek "He's trying to find his family..." It couldn't walk very well, but I picked it up while Ethan went to get a jacket and shoes on and we walked around the bushes near our home and the neighbor's houses looking and listening for any quail. No luck.

The kids kept tending the bird, we tried to give it water, and the kids kept praying for it's family to come. I decided it would be good for it to be outside, so we put it in a little tupperware container and carried it into the backyard, and lo and behold, there was an adult quail on the fence. It flew away as I came out, so I followed it through the gate, across the street, and into the neighbors yard. As I got close enough to almost be able to set the bird down, it flew away from me again, this time back into our back yard. I came back, carefully, and put the chick on the ground on one side of the deck, with the adult quail under our deck on the other side. I went inside and we all watched from the window as the baby went under the deck. I went out to peek, and it was slowly following the mom/dad quail and they cooed back and forth. I was quite pleased that the bird was back with an adult and it didn't seem to be my problem anymore. But then the adult headed across the grass and the chick didn't keep up with it, and started slowly walking in the opposite direction. I went to help again - put the chick in the container, carried it to the bushes where the adult was, and went inside. After a while I went to go check the status. The chick was out of the container but I couldn't see where, and the adult was up on the brick wall. Still, the bird was in charge of the chick now.

Checking the baby bird's status once again (oh don't I have enough other things to do?!?) I went outside - the adult was still there, no chick in the tupperware, I'll just let them handle it... I turned to go inside and barely notice that there's the chick in the grass - very camouflaged. It wasn't in the bushes trying to follow the adult like I thought - it was laying there sprawled on the grass again, much like it looked in the street, unable to walk and seeming to be waiting to die. But gosh I hardly even noticed it on the grass, you little bird! What are you doing? and I wished I knew what was wrong. With the adult bird not cooperating, the kids decided they wanted to keep it as a pet, I did some quick internet research about what to feed baby quail, I debated about whether I should run out to the IFA store for some poultry feed, what to do what to do, should I call a wildlife rehabilitator like one internet site suggested (here's a link on what do do it you find a baby bird. Good advice, but I didn't know if I should bother them over a little hurt quail baby that would probably die before they got here anyway...) Lily finally woke up to nurse which I appreciated as it distracted me from the baby bird situation that had now lasted much longer than I had planned...

So we brought the chick inside, wrapped it in a little wash rag since it was a little wet and seemed cold from the sprinkling rain. Corey had ordered a movie from Netflix that he wanted to watch, so the kids followed him downstairs to watch Ghandi and I took the bird outside again in the tupperware container. I put him close to the bushes, but at an angle so he could get out. I went down to watch the movie with the kids. After an hour I went to check on the bird. He wasn't in the container. I walked very carefully on the grass this time, since last time when he was in the grass I hardly noticed him. He wasn't on the grass, he wasn't in the container, I checked the bushes and the ground covered with ivy but couldn't see him anywhere. I listened to hear him chirping, nothing. There wasn't an adult quail anywhere, I didn't think he'd be able to get very far in the ivy so I kept looking in a larger area trying to see him. After 10 minutes I gave up. I told myself "He's lost or dead I guess... I tried my best to help the little guy, he's in the Lord's hands. Poor cute little bird" and as I walked away, I noticed that under my foot was a cluster of leaves covering a little dead bird that had obviously been stepped on... Oh no... I squished him!!!! I felt rotten and started to cry. Poor little bird. I am positive I killed him, cause his little guts had squished out of it's bottom, so I'm sure it died of being squished, not of something else, although something else (starvation) would have killed it eventually, but still, oh poor little bird I squished you! And I had tried to be so careful on the grass. I was crying, and I put it in the flower pot where the other dead birds are (we had a bluebird's nest in our back bushes, and I didn't check on them very often, so a week ago I thought I'd go see if they'd all flown off, and found a pile of three rain drenched and dried hard baby bird bodies in the nest - I don't know what happened to them that they all died - too much rain? the mom got hurt and didn't come back? They saw me snooping by the nest a few times and decided to abandon the whole offspring idea, too risky to get caught by humans? Sad sad, not a good year for birds in our yard...) so I dropped the baby quail in the bushes by the dead birds in the nest. I went inside, and Ethan was coming upstairs to see how the baby bird was. I told him the bird was dead. Then I told him the bird was dead cause I squished it, and I explained how it happened. He was sad, we both cried, he tried to let me know I wasn't bad and it wasn't my fault, I didn't mean to kill it, and then we had a memorial service for the bird and said a prayer and we buried it by the deck where earlier it had tried to follow the adult quail before it got left behind. So the baby bird is dead. He didn't even get to live for very long - he must have only been 1 or 2 weeks old. "How come babies die" Ethan questioned. I guess his work was done. "Do animals get resurrected?" I told him they do. And we're looking forward to meeting that cute little quail in heaven.

After we told the other kids that the bird was dead, they wanted to see it, so we went and dug it up and then buried it again. Is that okay to dig up a dead body after you've said a prayer for it's burial? The kids all put lily flowers on the spot where we buried it, and we also found a rock that was perfectly shaped like an egg and also half of an easter egg that we put on as a gravemarker. So that's my long rambling story about the baby quail bird and how I spent 6 hours stressing about it only to kill it by squishing it. Bye cute little birdy. (And sorry again).


  1. What a cute little story. I love how understanding Ethan was about the accidental squishing. What a tender-hearted family you all are. The teaching experience may have been a lot longer than you expected, but I'm sure it will be remembered.

  2. Ok! That was such a great little story! What a sad ending but great example you are of being loving and caring! And Lili is BEAUTIFUL! That is a lovely name! Hope you are all doing well!

  3. We had a try to save the baby bird story here just yesterday. We have some small brown birds who have built a nest over our porch door. There are baby's, which we only discovered on our way to the backyard as two featherless, newbord baby birds were on the ground. Eric thinks he squished the one closest to the door because it wasn't moving. The other was still moving, so Eric used some junk mail to pick it up, then he climbed up on an old counter to reach the nest. Then he went to a meeting.

    The three youngest and I were in and out most of the evening and shortly after returning the baby to the nest, we found him on the ground again. It was still alive, but I just put it away as it was going to die. I'm not as merciful I guess, but we did try once, right? Hopefully there are some others up in the nest that grow up.

  4. I've just read it and cried. I would have lied to my 3 year old. I think I'll take on your example if something like this ever happen to me.


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