Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Henry Wingrunner

Katie was outside playing when she came running in with a frantic look on her face. "There's an injured bird in our yard! We have to help him!"

I went outside with her to see. There was a young bird flopping around in the yard with one leg sticking out at a decidedly bizarre angle.

Oh no.

I have to tell you - I did not want to help this bird. I don't like birds. They are dirty critters who poop everywhere and have mites on them. I enjoy seeing other people's pet birds and I love seeing parrots in the zoo. But I don't have to feed or touch those birds so I don't mind them. But I did not want to take care of this one and definitely did not want it in my house.

But there stood Katie with a shoebox and an absolute determination to help the dirty little thing.

*sigh*

I don't know many parents that can convince their kids, "He's better off if you just let him die. A neighborhood cat will eat him and it will be really quick. It's that whole circle of life thing. The cat has to eat too!"

So, I got some gardening gloves and picked up the bird and put him in the shoe box and brought him inside my house. I'd better have an extra star in my crown when I get to heaven for that.


We already have a bird nest that we found in the yard a while back, so we put it in the box with him where he promptly ignored it. After some quick research on line, we fed him some sugar water through a straw and contacted a local wild bird rehabilitation center. They advised me that they did not have enough staff to help the bird, but that if we wanted to bring the bird in and let them examine it, they could show us how to feed it and give us all the supplies to take care of it and also set its leg so it could heal properly.

So Katie and I set off to meet up with a bird lady who supplied us with a bird cage, bird food, feeding syringes and instructions on how to feed him properly. We learned that he was a baby Brazillian Cardinal and that there was no way to tell if he was a male or female but we just assumed he was male from the beginning. The bird lady warned Katie that there was no way to tell yet if he had internal injuries and that there was a strong possibility he might not survive. Katie said she understood but that we had to do everything we could to help him.

Then we had to drive off to meet the lady who was going to set his leg. Once she saw him though, she realized his bones had already fused back together. She said he looked like he was about three weeks old and his leg had probably been injured at birth. She said he would eventually need surgery and that she knew a vet who would give us a discount if he knew we were working with the rehabilitation group.

Ugh. Now I not only had a bird I didn't want in the first place, but he needed surgery. Double Ugh.

We brought him home and Katie tried to think of awesome names for him like "Feathered Wonder Bird" or "Rhapsody Sonata". I just started calling him Henry. Eventually Katie settled on "Wingrunner" but I had already gotten used to calling him Henry, so Wingrunner wound up being his surname.

With all the supplies we were given, we came home and fed him. I thought he might refuse to eat but turns out he was quite happy to accept the syringe as a substitute mother.


I half expected to find him keeled over in the bottom of the cage the next morning, but he was rested and hungry when I got up to check on him. We took great care of him and was eating well and flapping his wings like he might eventually really try to fly.

We set him outside on our back table during the day so he could be in the sun and fresh air. Then the coolest thing happened: his parents came to see him. We were watching from the window as a male and female Brazilian Cardinal first sat on our roof and chattered down at him. He excitedly chirped back. Then the father came and sat right on top of the cage and they had quite a conversation. The father kept cocking his head to the side as if trying to figure out how on earth his son had gotten into this contraption. I was considering moving him to an open top box so that his parents might possibly continue feeding him. But you never know, sometimes a parent will kill an injured child and we'd gotten attached to Henry in just a few short days. I didn't want to let him get pecked to death.

I was still mulling over the possibility of allowing a parental visit when a little dog we were babysitting jumped up on the table, knocked the cage over, and killed Henry before anyone even knew what had happened. It was over in a blink.

We were crushed. It's hard to get mad at a dog for being a dog. I felt guilty for not realizing the dog had the ability to jump up on the table. I felt guilty for setting the cage outside. I felt guilty because I was the one who let the little dog out there in the first place. I felt guilty because I hadn't wanted Henry at first.

I didn't feel guilty that I wasn't going to have to pay for surgery.

We had a nice little funeral for Henry and marked his grave with a flat rock which had been in our yard for some time. Katie handled it fairly well after her first initial desire to murder the dog. She had been well prepped that Henry might not survive and wasn't as upset as she usually would have been. She hates to see anything suffer or die.

Now she's convinced that Henry is flying around in heaven and that he knows we were trying to help him. And when we get to heaven he will come and sit on our shoulders and sing to us.

1 comment:

  1. I think our Katies are psychic twins. I have to repeat "Not in my house" all the time regarding wild animals. Sorry about Henry. May he rest in peace.

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