Thursday, May 21, 2009

How Do You Explain This?

About seven years ago, some barn swallows built a nest next a back door and right in front of a back window. Every spring and early summer, we are greeted with a new little flock of swallows.

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.

I agreed.

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?


EatPlayLove said...

that's a hard one. I have no idea how I would've handled it. My daughter is devastated we don't have eggs in ours, the birds abandoned the beautiful nest they built.

Hopefully they will see the beauty in the ones that survived.

Melissa ♥ Spoiled Mommy said...

Awww-I just wrote about the same thing sad.
I dont know what to tell mine, she just keeps insisting that they are asleep, yep asleep thats good for me.
I dont know what I would have done in your place.

Jackie said...

Oh wow, that almost made me cry! Truly - how DO you explain something like this? Sweet girls - I love how sensitive they are,though.

dani said...

awww... your poor babies and those poor baby birds, too:( how rotten all the way around, lisa. i think you handled the situation beautifully.
much love,
dani xxxxxx

Amanda said...

How awful for the kids ~ they just don't understand. Poor things.

I think you have handled the whole thing really well ~ I don't know what i would have done in your situation.

I'm glad the remaining babies are all doing well ~ that should help the kids forget a little bit.

Amanda x

Unknown said...

Oh, that's so sad but sweet at the same time. Their concern for the baby birds just melts my heart!

P.S. Happy belated Birthday! : )

Momo Fali said...

I think the animal kingdom gives kids an invaluable look at death. Knowing that it is part of life helps them accept it when a cherished pet or a relative dies.

But, THAT was a very difficult situation. Having to explain that a mother would do that would be very hard.

mah-meeee said...

i think you explained it perfectly. i wouldn't know what to say if it was me.

Texasholly said...

Ugh. I think you did really well on that doesn't make sense to me either.

Susan said...

That story made me cry! :-( It just doesn't make sense.. and I think you handled it just perfectly.