Death of a Bird

This morning I buried a bird.
Not any bird.
A bird, still too young to survive on its own and still sharing a nest with three siblings. A bird I saw as an egg, and then as a featherless creature with a wide-open beak, waiting for its tireless mother to feed it.
Every spring, two or three birds build their nest under the porch that wraps around my home. This year, a mother built one in a plant basket right above the doorbell. Smart choice since the nest was protected from the cool and wet weather, high enough so nobody could disturb the eggs, and yet close to the garden so the mother had easy access to food.
My family has been very careful to not disturb the eggs and then the baby birds. Earlier this week I told my kids that within a few days the birds would be able to fly on their own. We were lucky last year to see a flock of baby birds taking off for the first time. We were all cheering for them as they spread their brand new wings and flew away.
I was getting ready for the same event, perhaps even as close as this weekend.
But because of a stupid mistake this won’t happen.
And I’m the one to blame.
I was drinking a water bottle under my porch, taking in the gorgeous sunny spring day that was just starting. Without thinking, I emptied the few last drops in my plant basket.
The four birds took off frantically.
In a flash, I realized what I had done and also that there was nothing I could do to stop the birds and bring them back to their nest. My only hope was that they were old enough to fly and feed themselves.
My heart slammed in my chest at the thought of my stupidity. Three of the four birds vanished in an instant but the fourth one struggled, and as I hoped it would return to its nest, it dove to the ground and slammed its tiny head in a large flowerpot.
Living in foothills, I’ve learned to avoid the deer, the quails, the wild turkeys, the foxes and even the coyotes. And I never hit any of them.
Today as I watched the lifeless body of the baby bird, I felt one hundred per cent responsible. Within seconds, ants appeared to feed on the dead body. I know it’s called the circle of life but I just couldn’t bear watching.
So I grabbed a shovel and dug a small grave in my front yard. Coincidentally, I noticed a small lavender plant growing from larger bushes and I buried the bird amidst the blooming young lavender.  I placed a birdbath on top as a tomb.
I had been so shocked by the quick and uncontrollable succession of events that I didn’t notice that my front door was left ajar.
A bird had made its way inside my home.
I won’t do another mistake, I thought.
We regularly have birds that accidentally enter our home. It takes patience to help them find their way out.
This one was particularly difficult to locate but when I did, it was hiding in the laundry room behind the dryer. Afraid it would find a way inside the machine, I moved it.
I spotted the bird, its tiny heart pulsing with fright under the grey feathers speckled with red and yellow.
Instantly I recognized it. It was one of the four birds!
It was my chance to redeem myself. I couldn’t mess up again.
I closed the doors of every room so the bird wouldn’t get trapped somewhere else and removed the screen window, hoping the bird would understand I didn’t want to hurt it.
It’s my baseball hat that did the trick. Using it as a net, I managed to scoop the bird that snuggled inside. I slowly climbed above the windowsill and gently released the bird on the ground under my porch.
Its small body was shaking but its eyes didn’t blink and within seconds, it took off.
Under my porch, the nest is empty and I know that the birds weren’t ready for take off.
I hadn’t buried any bird since I was a kid when my sister and I created a cemetery to bury them. 
The difference was that we always found them already dead. 

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