I came back out and scooped up the little guy and held him against my chest. He seemed to be some sort of sparrow with red downy feathers on his chest and the top of his head. He seemed young because he was so frail but then I thought, perhaps he was very old…what happens to older birds, when they can longer fly? I always see baby birds being fed and cared for by their parents. But when a bird ages where do they go? What do they do? Do they just succumb to prey animals? I didn’t know.
I squatted down and dipped my finger in the bowl of water I have in a planter to collect the sprinkler run-off, for the birds to use as a bird bath. I dribbled the water onto his beak and he was quite thirsty and mouthed the water down. About this time Kerry came wandering back to see what I was doing, curious she came up to us. This caused the little guy to hop out of my hands and hop across the dirt to a log at the bottom of the wood pile. I told Kerry to go lay down please and she wandered back toward the garage. I dribbled a bit more water onto my feathered friend’s beak. But he seemed to be panting heavily. I thought you can’t stay down here so close to the ground in your condition…the neighbor’s cat will surely take advantage of the opportunity.
So I picked him back up and was peering at him, I could feel his little heart beating in my palm, his little wing would rise and fall with each breath. And then he seemed to shrink and not be so fluffy, his eye closed halfway as he went more on his side. His wing then stopped moving and I realized the sweet little bird had died, right there in my hand. His warm, limp body was still in my hand and I stroked his delicate feathers. I felt so sad.
That little corner of my yard gives me immense joy as I often watch the birds frolic there; eating seeds I put out, bathing and splashing in the water, taking dust baths on the ground and just hopping among the branches in the nearby bushes and my pine tree.
I wonder if this little guy had been intentionally sticking close to this area, as his end time got closer; a place to eat and drink and be near other birds perhaps? I said a little prayer for God’s creature and carried him as I went to get a small shovel from the garage. I came back and dug a hole and gently laid his little body in it and covered it with the soil.
All day I’ve been thinking of this experience; pondering his passing and our brief interaction during it. Life is indeed so fleeting. I hope I provided him comfort and companionship during his transition.
Here’s a photo I looked up on the web.
It appears he was a House Finch.