There’s Always One

Our home is becoming a wildlife sanctuary.

My husband and son rescued this little bunny from our window well and set him free to rejoin his family. I’d post video of the rabbit rodeo, but I’d like to stay married.

rabbit baby

baby bunny

Two toads have taken up permanent residence in the window well turned terrarium. Our eyes sift through the sand to detect their camouflaged bodies.

The robins in our holly tree who survived the tornado have long since gone. Another resourceful robin laid eggs in a coil of electrical wire tucked under our deck. She’s fearlessly raising her brood to fledging status this week.

Some starlings constructed a muddy nest under the deck, too.

This past Tuesday morning, I let the dog out to roam in the backyard. As we ate breakfast inside, we heard her urgent barking.

“She wants to come in already?”

“I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” said my son.

“Okay, just make sure you lock up after you let her in.”

He scurried downstairs to open the door.

“No, Ella! No!”

My skinny seven-year-old lugged our overweight dog into the house.

“Ella was trying to bite the baby bird!” he said.

A starling chick had fallen from the nest. His four brothers and sisters peeked out of their dirt clod cone of a home.

“Don’t touch it!” I said. The tiny bird lie on his back struggling to breathe. Gingerly, I flipped him over. He waddled a few steps.

“Let’s call your dad and figure out what to do,” I said.

My husband was in a meeting, unavailable to take our call. So I did what any modern woman on the prairie does. I Googled it.

perched on stacked garden benches


The Miami Science Museum website gave us instructions:

“Don’t worry about ‘smelling like a human.’ Actually, most birds have a very poor sense of smell and won’t be able to tell that you helped their baby… If you can find the nest, then put the baby bird into it.”

We stacked benches and climbed up.

“Spot me, will ya?”

I carefully lifted the chick up to the nest. He disappeared down into the funnel. He was a goner for sure.

By evening, he’d fallen out again. We stacked the benches, climbed up, placed him with his siblings. Only this time he didn’t disappear.

This time he turned around and perched on the rim of the dirt cone.

“Go back in,” I said and nudged him. He refused to move, stretching his neck out between my fingers.

baby starling at nest edge

on the edge

The next morning, he’d hopped out again. And again in the afternoon.

This bird is not old enough to leave the nest. He’s just beginning to open his eyes. There are downy tufts on his head. He’d be defenseless on the ground if a snake or cat came prowling. My husband thinks he’s trying to find relief from the triple digit heat.

Soon he’ll fly like the adult starlings who circle and complain as we return their offspring to the nest. We’ll save him from danger for as long as we can. But he’s tasted the cool, sweetness of freedom.

Wednesday evening we sat by the window under the deck, quietly watching avian parents fly back and forth. The robins landed and stayed to feed their chicks. But the starlings swooped in and hovered beside the mud nest, their apricot chests suspended by strong, flapping wings.

baby starling

starling child

If they landed, it was like angels touching earth, too quick for us to see.

Swan-diving starling child, do you show your siblings how to fall into this air?

There’s always one who leads.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:20-21 ESV

I would give my life to find it. I would give it all. Catch me if I fall. 

Who do you lead? Who do you follow?

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  1. Pingback: Of Starlings and Barn Swallows | everyday epistle