So a few weeks back, the swallows came back. Along with the lots of eggs. The girls had a ladder and video camera to capture it all. The birds were born a couple of days ago (on my birthday to be exact). The kids went nuts as the mommy and daddy swallow would swoop over their heads every two minutes or so to feed the youngins.
We left the happy family for a fun morning of errands and came back to find four of the baby birds on our concrete porch, struggling to live. Sarah was the one who found them first. She was hysterical. It was heartbreaking to see these little creatures no bigger than my thumb with no feathers, fur or even open eyes, roll on the hard concrete. One was dead.
Miley insisted we put them back. I tried to explain that the odds were, these were not heathy babies and the mommy swallow had no choice but to take them out of the nest so she could focus on the healthy birds.
"But that's just wrong mommy, "she cried. "There's nothing wrong with them. See they are moving and they making little cries. We can't just let them die here."
She was right. We honestly could not just watch them struggle to live.
So I went inside, grabbed a soft paper towel. We carefully placed the extremely fragile, sweet babies on the towel and I climbed the ladder. I placed them in the back of the nest.
Then the kids took another towel for the baby bird that did not survive the fall, wrapped her up and dug a place for her in the garden. We had a little prayer and gave her a name. Miley led the service and I was proud of her sensitivity to one of God's little creatures.
I went back inside and noticed the mommy bird was on the nest, warming the birds. I was hoping the three birds we saved would be accepted back into the nest. And for a while, it looked like they would be as I watched the daddy bring food and mommy continually go back to warm them.
We left for a swim lesson and came back to see the 3 baby birds again on the concrete. Dead. My heart was stuck in my throat as I debated if I should even tell the children what happened.
Miley came out and my decision was made.
"How could she do that?" she cried as we began to wrap the teeny little babies.
"Honey, "I began. "She thinks they are sick and won't be able to make it."
"So, that doesn't mean..."
"Miley, if she spent all her time taking care of the sick babies, her healthy babies would get sick and they could all die."
"But it's just not right," she cried.
We had another funeral and more tears.
The remaining birds are thriving. I am starting to hear them in the morning.
The girls have moved on. They are not as focused on the new babies but they do occasionally glance up at the nest.
At this point, I don't even know how I feel about all this. It is a learning experience but did they have to learn it this summer?