Part 1 | Part 2
The first thing on my mind when I woke the next morning: Did he make it? I had to know if my baby bird had survived the first night. I was already unbelievably attached to him. If God had indeed given me this bird to distract me from my impatience waiting for R&R, well, it was working. And Birdy, as I began to refer to him, did indeed make it through the night! He greeted me happily with chirps and wriggling wings as I peeked into his box, and it brought me such joy. He truly became my baby. Though I didn’t birth him, I worried about him like a mother, and he was utterly dependent on me for everything.
I was worried, though. I hadn’t wanted a bird. I was just trying to save a life. Now, it seemed I was stuck. I had to keep caring for him, and it soon became apparent that he was bonded to me in such a way as would make it very dangerous to try and release him. Also, how would I get anything done between all the time spent caring for him? What had I gotten myself into?
But every time I fed him or spent time with him, it became a real joy. It was…uplifting! Over the next two days we settled into a rhythm of feedings and naps, and I found that I could find time for other things (chores) in between times. Birdy was happy to snuggle against his heating pad and rest in between feedings; he didn’t need me 24/7. I managed to learn how to better manage my time, and around this time I started to wonder just how God was using this. Maybe there was more to this than just distracting me for the time being. Maybe, I thought, this is actually a bit of preparation for motherhood? Maybe it’s preparation for the future, for keeping other birds – maybe even chickens – so that I won’t be afraid of them?
Each night, I put Birdy to bed and prayed he would make it through another night, and each morning, I prayed for the strength to give Birdy what he needed as well as do all the other things I needed to do. We continued to grow more attached to each other even as Birdy became more independent. There came a day when it seemed he no longer needed or wanted to stay in his little shoe box between feedings. I would sometimes put him in and close the lid so it was only open a crack and thus force him to rest a bit, but at other times I would set him on the windowsill to look outside, or he would sit on the open lid of his box and preen and watch me.
I got a lot of help and support from the members at Pigeon-Talk Forums, and it was a few members there that began to say that Birdy’s poops were not looking so good. He might be sick. I felt horrible! Birdy had just gotten past what I’d considered the danger zone and was finally seeming to thrive, and now he might be sick? I was told all kinds of problems that might be causing the bad poops, and I had to drive and call all around trying to find a medication that no one seemed to carry. Even once I found a store that would ship it to me overnight, it got delayed, and it seemed like I would never get it! After I received it and started giving Birdy his doses, his poops did not improve, and we had some more scares. He threw up his formula several times and was acting very lethargic, and finally I took him to a vet who very kindly worked us in between his other patients to check Birdy over and take some stool samples for testing. Birdy came out with a clean bill of health – such a load off my mind! Such a relief!
So many things could have gone wrong… There were so many mistakes I made in caring for this bird, and my efforts were so imperfect. He could have died from the mistakes I made in the first day alone! I fed him when he was cold. I left the formula out all day and reheated it, allowing bacteria to grow. I made the formula with hot tap water, possibly introducing bad things to him from the hot water pipes. I made his formula too thick sometimes. I fed him way too much some days, so he could have aspirated (this, in fact, is probably what was causing him to vomit his formula on occasion – overfeeding). I didn’t keep him perfectly protected from drafts in his box. And yet throughout it all, Birdy not only survived but actually thrived under my care. The Lord must have been protecting him from my blunders.
God seemed to reveal to me over time spent with Birdy that he really cares for all of his creation. Maybe the whole experience was less about me and more about showing God’s love, even for something as insignificant as a dove – one dove among hundreds just in my neighborhood alone. Or maybe he intended this to save Birdy, teach me about his love, prepare me for motherhood, distract me, keep Marty and me together and focused during R&R, and many other things… Maybe he provided exactly what I/we needed at exactly the right time, and used it in even more ways than I can imagine. That does sound like my God.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
Matthew 6:26 (NIV)
“Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?”
“I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.”
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”
(Click to watch videos: Baby Dove Feeding | Friday Morning Feeding | Feeding Birdy 12 days old | Feeding 5/2)