I was just chatting with our IT guy ‘Q’ before calling it a day at work when one of our manager Richard walked in with an envelope with a baby bird inside! He found it under his car at the parking lot in our building basement. He tried to look for the nest to replace the baby bird back up there but… he couldn’t find one. So he brought it back up to the office and the 3 of us, me, Q and Richard had no idea what to do about it. The first thing we did was to give the bird something to eat, but what??? I got some biscuit from the pantry, smashed them up, mixed with water then rolled them up in small tiny balls. Then we thought of taking it out probably place it somewhere under a tree or near the spot where Richard found it. But then again, we were afraid that it might be ‘dinner’ to some animals like bigger birds, stray dogs and cats! Worse still, get run over by a car! So in the end we decided to keep and care for it in what people say do something… good? hospitable? noble? charitable…??? can’t get the right word! Anyway we would just care for it and see how it goes. Yeah, we were serious, not just trials and errors sort of thing. We had to be careful and serious about it, it’s a life we were talking about. We would do our very best and to the best of our knowledge. Probably we could get some ideas from our other colleagues or friends the next day.
Q in the meantime start ‘googling’ and ‘youtubing’ on how to care for a baby bird or at least what should we do about it and how. Finally he found 2 videos on how to care for baby birds in YouTube… Great!
From there, we get the bird a nice box, stuff with paper and tissues, and probably later with some dry grass as well. By then the bird was enjoying the biscuit rolls we made. So far so good. Next, we got a straw, dip it in water and release into the bird’s beak which was always wide open whenever it saw us. Again so far so good. So, now, what could we do next? Who would take care of it? By now Richard already left without a word leaving me and Q giving each other excuses! In the end I decided to bring it home for the weekend and see what I could do. Me and Q both think that this little birdie should be in the office during working days so that we could feed it and keep an eye on it. As those videos in you tube suggested that baby birds should be fed every 15 minutes! My goodness! OK, fine and whatever, at least we were trying to do something good, and we dare not think how long that little birdie would survive. Hopefully we are able to see him/her spread his/her wings one day…
By the time I reached this part here, I already gave a second round of biscuit rolls and just passed 2000hr into the night. Guess I gotta prepare to bring it home safely, probably get some bread or cereal as suggested in the video. Hey, that little fella in the box is very quiet right now, and me gotta log off and call it a day. OK little birdie, let’s go for a drive…
fast forward… after 11 days with us, we let lil’ birdie go free.
Though it was only 11 days with us, we sort of created a close bonding with lil’ birdie. Me and my wife Ann kept thinking about lil’ birdie after we let it go free. We were worried whether lil’ birdie could make it on his/her own (till now we still unsure whether it’s a he/she). Worried whether he/she knows how to look for food and shelter as after 3 or 4 hours or so letting birdie free, it rained heavily, thunder and lightning! I said a little prayer for birdie…
I thought it is only right to write about the few days birdie was with us, in memory of him/her.
Now rewind back to day 1. This picture here was taken when I first met birdie, the day we found him/her 14th August 2014 around 1830hr.
Birdie then was too young to walk, just crawling around and I wasn’t sure how old he/she was at that time, probably a few days or at the most 1 week. That day itself I brought birdie home with me in a box as I needed to monitor him/her. I was quite reluctant then, gosh… gonna be tedious looking after a baby bird, it will not be easy I thought, let alone whether it will survive! I will try my best I said to myself. This was day 1.
Day 2 (15/08/2014) was the Feast of the Assumption for our Catholic faith and we woke up early to attend the 0630 morning mass. As we were preparing ourselves, I just peeped into birdie’s box to check how it was doing. It was still sleeping as the house was quite dark and I guess birdie still thought it was night. I dared not wake birdie up because as soon as it open it’s eyes, he/she would be asking for food with the mouth wide open and chirping. So we left birdie alone in the house as we left for church. Once we were done in the church and after a quick breakfast outside, we came back home and by now birdie was already wide awake chirping calling out for breakfast even as we opened the main door. We prepared some oats and bread for birdie and it seemed to enjoy it. So the whole of day 2 was like this, checking on birdie every 20 minutes, or when it chirped “chirp chirp chirp”… feeding birdie every 15, 20 minutes through out the day. Me and Ann was wondering when would all these will be over as we were getting tired and restless in caring for lil’ birdie. It needed a lot of attentions and we were not prepared for all these especially weekend coming (day 2 was a Friday). Weekends are where we rest and relax or catching up our own stuffs we missed out through the week.
Day 3 was quite similar routine except that birdie was getting more active and mischievous. It seemed to be getting curious around the house.
…not to mention getting noisier too. The whole of this day 3, we gave our attention to birdie which by now was very fond of us, moving close to us with it’s beak opened wide whenever we get closed to him/her. Me and Ann too were getting fond of birdie and when evening came, time for the sunset mass, we fed birdie again before leaving for church. After mass, we had a quick dinner and headed home. It was about 2040hr when we reached home, we woke birdie up to give a little food so that he/she will not be hungry through out the night as we last fed birdie was evening before sunset.
On day 4, we woke up a little bit late, after sunrise at about 0830hr and we could hear birdie chirping calling out for food. Again we prepared the normal stuffs for his/her breakfast. It was a Sunday so no problem looking after birdie and we fed him/her again every 15, 20 minutes or so, or when he/she started chirping asking for ‘yum yum’. By now, me and Ann were getting more committed… sort of getting fond of birdie.
The result was showing and gave us the motivation to do better, our feeling for birdie also grew and seemed like he/she was part of us. Though not much informations we gathered from our research (‘googling’ and ‘youtubing’), we just did the best we could. From what we gathered from the internet, birdie is either a house sparrow or Eurasion tree sparrow and we couldn’t (even now) figure out which type birdie belongs to. From those pictures we saw in the internet, house sparrows do not seem to look like birdie as they look a bit fierce though the body and behaviors are similar. Eurasion tree sparrows look more like birdie, smaller in size but some how or rather, we still couldn’t figured out… It didn’t matter at that time as our main concerns were to care and see birdie grow, be healthy, strong and able to go free one day.
We put birdie in a Tupperware which was shallower to let it jumped out whenever it liked for some workouts and exercised the wings. So far so good, birdie seemed to be happy, active and hopping about, not stressed up. When evening came, back to the box again for a good night sleep.
Day 5, Monday! We need to go to work, so leaving birdie in the house for the whole day was out of the question. Birdie needed attentions and fed every now and then. So I brought birdie along with me for work. Birdie went for a ride again in my car to my office. In the office I placed birdie’s box at the back of my working cubicle just behind my desk. Before having my own breakfast, I prepared quacker oats mixed with tiny pieces of bread (hey, wholemeal bread). As usual birdie would chirp at every 15 minutes intervals and attracted some of my colleagues attentions though none of our bosses noticed. I got a hand from some of my colleagues especially Yen (our programmer) in feeding birdie. Whenever I leaved my cubicle, I made sure I pulled down the lid covering the box slightly as birdie was capable of jumping out. Birdie seemed to know that he/she was in a place where he/she shouldn’t jump out, seemed to know that it was not home. Evening came, when most of my colleagues had left especially our bosses, I let birdie out for exercise. Every time I did that, I got to have tissues ready as birdie would ‘poop’ at the slightest opportunities…
This was routine right up to day 9 (Monday to Friday)… and from day 6 (Tuesday) onwards, birdie had the privilege to has ‘beef’ in his/her menu. Yen was kind enough to spare some of her dog biscuits (beef favor). We learned this from one of the you tube videos where they said baby bird can be fed with dog or cat food soaked in water. I soaked the dog biscuits in warm water till soft enough, then mixed with the quacker oats plus those tiny pieces of wholemeal bread. Birdie loved it soooo much! I was so happy then as the baby bird we were caring for was active and not sickly (or sickie?), which is which? please mind my English. The only problem was that those sticky oats/biscuits/bread mixture some time got sprinkled on to birdie’s head and back as birdie by this time was a bit aggressive whenever we brought him/her food especially when the time he/she chirping calling out for food. I had a hard time cleaning birdie from those sticky stuffs.
So day 5 to day 9 also sort of routine for us and birdie, except that from day 8, birdie was getting restless or bored staying in the box for long hours, it jumped out on it’s own. I didn’t noticed the very first time birdie jumped out (in the office), but I did noticed something was amidst when after the sound of wings fledging there was complete silent. When I turned around I saw birdie out standing on a plastic container on top of my side desk. He/she was quiet when realized I noticed him/her out of the box. He/she was giving me a naughty mischievous look. When I tried to catch him/her, he/she tried to play catching with me like ‘Tom and Jerry’. So from then on, I need to be more on the lookout as birdie seemed to be getting bored staying in the box for long hours. I lowered the lid of the box and I felt so sorry and pitied birdie, but it was for it’s own good.
Come day 10 (Saturday), another weekend. By now, birdie was no more a ‘something’ that inconvenience us or a burden, he/she was part of us and we were feeling a bit worry and sad as it will be time for birdie to leave us soon. We wanted to keep birdie for as long as we could but worried that if kept too long with us, birdie could lose it’s natural sense or abilities to fend on it’s own. We wanted birdie to be free in it’s natural ways just like any other birds. Day 10, birdied reacted quite differently, not very much interested to the food and normal stuffs, but getting anxious to come out of the box. Birdie by this time needed more space so we transferred him/her to a bigger plastic container.
It could be a mistake, we don’t know, because in the plastic container birdie could see outside 360 degrees which made him/her more restless staying in a confined area. We are staying in an apartment and our unit is 10 floor up, so putting the container in the balcony with the cover opened is a ‘no no’. What if birdie jumped out and tried to fly then drop 10 floor down!!??? So we kept birdie indoor and whenever he/she leaped out of the plastic container, we allowed him/her to venture a little while in the living hall before putting him/her back to the container. Other than the normal stuffs, today (day 10) we fed birdie with some cakes too but he/she didn’t seem to eat like normally he/she did. It seemed that birdie was more interested of the outside environment. The only time and probably the last that birdie had a good normal meal was during evening around 1700hr when we fed him/her before leaving for our sunset mass. That night when we came home from church and dinner, birdie was half asleep, sort of like waiting for us to say goodnight. We tried to feed him/her then, but again birdie was not eating, his/her attention was outside. That night I knew it was about time to say goodbye to birdie. How we wished then, we were living in a landed property with our own backyard where we could just leave the container opened there and let birdie take his/her time to fly off.
We learned from the internet that the proper way to let free a bird is this way, where the bird would fly off somewhere nearby but might return for food; and after a few returns it would then go off for good when got used to the outside/wild environment. This was something we were unable to do from an apartment. I said a little prayer that night seeking for the best way and place to let birdie go free and the right time.
The next morning (day 11) Sunday 24/08/2014 when we fed birdie in the morning he/she didn’t want to eat, only took one or two of the small balls (food rolled up into balls shape) but wanted to leap or jump out of the container when we open the lid to fed him/her.
And that day (day 11) we were supposed to have lunch outside with our friends to celebrate one of the IJ Convent nuns who happened to be my God mum (Sister Angela). We were supposed to meet up for lunch at 1230hr and by 1145hr or so, birdie still didn’t eat much except those two little pieces we fed earlier in the morning. Was birdie hungry? Might be but because of her enthusiasm of getting out there, she forgot about meal time? We don’t know and I felt reluctant to let birdie go free with an empty stomach. What should we do?
Suddenly I thought of letting birdie go free in the IJ Convent compound. It has lots of trees and plants there surrounded with bushes and plotted plants too. May be God gave me this idea. IJ Convent is a place where those retired nuns residing. It’s a very quiet nice area on top of a small hill. I noticed sparrows same as birdie in the compound before. Birdie was chirping non stop on the way to the convent, it’s attention still on the outside raising it’s neck to peep out. That was it I thought, time to go free… I was prepared for this moment where we will be separated, it could be hard but it was for birdie’s own good. My only regret or worry was that birdie might be hungry because it didn’t eat much like it normally did the whole morning.
When we reached the convent, we looked for a nice spot nearby some tall trees, with low plants below. I guessed a perfect place to let go of birdie, with high and low branches around in case birdie would not be able to fly steadily in it’s first few attempts. If that happened, there were the low branches around for safe landing.
When we first put the container opened on the ground, birdie took a change of behavior, reluctant to come out, probably not used to the open space or environment. It took quite a while for birdie to gather enough confident to come out but then went back in again. After a while longer, I took birdie by the hand and left it on a branch (about slightly more than 2 feet from the ground). It chirp, chirp, chirp… shaked it’s wings a little, turned around hoped to the other side of the branch. After surveying and studying the heights and surroundings, birdie leaped from the branch, guessed that was birdie’s maiden flight, just a few feet in the air and landed on the grass below.
From then, birdie hoped around the plant chirping (I took a video of birdie for the last time), at times hopping towards me but I moved further with a heavy heart… I got to stop the video taping and moved away from the grassy area to leave birdie alone and observed from my car about 10 feet away. Before that, perhaps my last few words to birdie was “go birdie, you are free now, go and multiply…”. Then a silent prayer for birdie and to God to take care of birdie especially during the first few days in the open/wild.
From afar I could see birdie chirping and hopping around that plant looking towards us, as though he/she was saying goodbye too, then slowly moving further bit by bit, hop by hop and chirping further into the grassy area towards those bigger and taller trees, a few times I saw birdie turned his/her head looking at us as though telling us he/she gonna missed us, and YES, we will missed birdie very much too, that is for sure. As birdie moved further into the area towards those trees, the sound of it’s chirping became faint… that was when we got into our car, had a last look at birdie and for the very last time which by now looked like a tiny ‘something’ far away… and we drove off.
Yes, with a heavy heart we let birdie free, it was for it’s own good. Birdie should be free and live in it’s natural habitat just like other birds. It needs to learn to fend for itself, hunt it’s own food, looks for shelter. Deep down in me, I don’t think it was the right time to let birdie free as I could see it’s flight wasn’t steady. We let birdie go because it had been restless, eager to get out of it’s confinement in the container for the past 2 days. We felt that it was best to let birdie go though some might thought it was too early. We were worried too that birdie would go into depression if kept longer and might not survive. When we let loose of birdie in the house, it was so fast hopping around going under furniture and we had a hard time catching up. So with a heavy heart, we thought it was best to let birdie free though a little too soon. Yes, we were still worried about birdie’s welfare and we still are. We prayed for birdie. We even went back to the convent after our lunch that day, about 3 or 4 hours since we let birdie free. We were just about 2km away from the convent where it started to rain heavily. OH God, please help birdie. When we reached the convent, the rain was getting heavier with thunder and lightning. Birdie was no where to be seen, probably hiding under some branches and we hope it did. We hanged in there for awhile waiting for the rain to stop so that I could just take a look at the area where we left birdie earlier to see whether we could find him/her, whether he/she was able to cope. But the rain didn’t stop, and after almost an hour waiting, still heavy drizzling. It was as though God was telling us not to worry, just go home, birdie is fine… and so we left.
Thank you very much birdie for your company for the past 11 days or so. We thank God too for the opportunity to care for you. I could see that we were able to ‘click’ and the close bonding we shared. Thank you for those little tricks you showed us, those anxious moments you gave us but never a moment we were annoyed or bored. You were a part of us, part of our family. We will missed you definitely and you will remain in our heart, especially mine. Stay strong, active and healthy. Be brave! We may not see each other again, but I wish I can just see you one more time just to be sure that you are OK, still in good shape, able to fly and soar. Just one more time will do. Till then, all the best Birdie! …chirp, chirp, chirp…
31082014 Sunday – today exactly 1 week and about the same time after letting birdie free, we went back to the area in the IJ Convent but birdie was no where to be seen. Probably I thought, birdie may has some new friends somewhere nearby or far away. Probably too, birdie went somewhere and will be back. After almost an hour, we left. So birdie, we will be back again. Hope to see you one day, just once will do… (the picture below was where we let birdie free).