The little bird cheeped in response, but seemed too exhausted to try to move away.
“Well,” I said, “what shall we do with him? We can’t just leave him here in the middle of the driveway. It’s a miracle the kids didn’t run him over with their bikes when they came through.”
The two older kids had gone on, tired of waiting for the rest of us to come out. They returned shortly, wondering why we hadn’t caught up with them yet.
“Ah, look how cute he is! Can we keep him? Where did he fall from? Is he hurt?” The questions tumbled over one another as we all stood around the little fellow, trying to decide our next move.
“Let’s go on our walk,” I said after some quick prayers for guidance, “and hopefully his parents will return. Maybe he will be taken care of by the time we get back.”
We walked. We returned. The bird was still there and seemed too exhausted from his ordeal to try to move to safer ground.
“I suppose we can’t just leave him here. Let’s get a box to put him in, and make a little nest with a towel and some straw. Maybe we could put a heating pad under the box to keep him warm. Will you guys help?” I asked.
“Yay! Come on, let’s gather some things to make his nest more comfortable,” my daughter enthusiastically said to her brother as she ran off to pick flowers and other treasures to help the baby bird feel at home.
After we got him settled into a cozy “nest,” I pulled out my phone to look up how to care for this little bird.
“It sounds like this little guy is a fledgling,” I said after scanning the information, “which means that he is ready to leave his nest to learn to forage for food and fly. At this age we are supposed to leave him where we found him. He’s ready to start learning how to be on his own. He still needs his parents to help feed him, and it says they should return within a few hours to take care of him.”
“Aw, too bad! I was hoping we could feed him and take care of him for awhile,” said my daughter, always wanting to rescue hurt and lonely critters.
“Well, let’s hope they come back for him,” I said. “We’ll say a little prayer for him and put him back under the maple tree where we found him — but out of the driveway.”
We prayed for his watch-care and protection, and placed him at the base of the maple tree near where we had found him.
“We’ll check on him in a couple of hours to see if his parents are back,” I said.
Nature is full of lessons like this, where the seemingly helpless baby is given the chance to try his wings in the big world to learn to take care of himself. From a human standpoint, it seems much too early for such a tiny creature to be cut off from his life support. His parents know when he is ready, and follow the instinct God has placed in them to push their child to his independence.
It’s what he needs to be able to learn and adapt in a sometimes cruel world. They can’t stay in the nest forever. Neither are the parents heartless. God has taught them what their babies can handle, and they work according to His plan.
As for the baby bird, when we peeked outside to check on him a little later later, his parents had come back. We knew he would be just fine. He was getting the education he needed to survive and thrive as a beautiful, independent cardinal one day very soon.
What a valuable lesson in instructing our children but finding the balance between being parent-directed and independent learners.
It’s a lesson I aim to apply with the Lord’s help, and will be sharing in the next post just exactly how we are working on growing independent learners.
“My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; When you sleep, they will keep you; And when you awake, they will speak with you,” Proverbs 6:20-22 NKJV.