Sunday, October 10, 2010
A few weeks past, I was sitting at my computer writing about unconditional love when my wife burst in. Wrapped in a towel, dripping wet, she informed an intruder had invaded the privacy of her shower. Pulling back the curtain I found, in the corner of the tub, a tiny little bird quivering with fear. His instinctual reaction was to resist as I gently picked him up. Within seconds he calmed, his little heart slowed as he accepted his fate. I placed him on the floor near my greenhouse hoping he would get his bearings in a warm place while my wife and I inspected him for damage. He remained silent, allowing us to determine the state of his health as satisfactory other than his inability to fly. We sat back in amazement, watching him quickly adjust to his circumstances. He hopped into the pot of the nearest plant acclimating to his new environment.
We searched the internet to determine his species which is a Cedar Waxwing
( Bombycilla cedrorum ). I called around to local government agencies for assistance but as it was Saturday everything was closed. I contacted the local veterinarian for assistance. The vet mentioned they would accept the bird however, regulations would only allow them to keep him for 24 hours. Unwilling to defer to regulatory decision making. My wife and I decided it necessary and humane to adopt this little bundle of love for the duration of his recovery.
We needed a name for this little fellow, we chose Tweedy. The first order of the day was to determine his diet. He had pooped on the floor leaving a partly decomposed berry to get us started. We discovered on the internet his preference for a variety of berries as well as the odd flying insect. We were worried he might miss migration. Soon our concerns were belayed when we discovered he spends the winter in this region. It took a while, but we established from the development of his plumage coupled with the start of nesting season, his age must have been about 10 weeks when he arrived. We wondered how he found his way through the small bathroom window which opens away from the wall leaving a very limited opening for entrance.
We hypothesised he may have been attacked by a Stellar Jay or a Crow, forcing him to make an uncomfortable choice. He could not fly, so we assumed he probably damaged his wing wildly trying to escape the unnatural confines of the bathroom. The internet offered another possible reason for his presence in our home. Apparently, it is common for Waxwings to get drunk on fermented berries, causing them all sorts of navigational flight issues.
We liked the idea of a young, punk of a bird, getting pissed for the first time ending up in a mess. He displayed no physical damage, other than his wing, so this very well may be the most apt explanation for his timely arrival.
I felt he should have warmth so his blood could circulate better inducing healing of the damaged muscle tissue. Along with his warm environment he needed lots of food. I spied a Mountain Ash in the woodlot next to my home allowing me to gather many ripe berries. The black berries were also ripe and full so I collected up a handful. Proud of my menu assortment I hoped Tweedy would enjoy the evening meal. I placed a few berries at his feet, he just looked around showing little interest in food. He was still suffering from the shock of the days events, it seemed he preferred to just rest quietly. Before going to bed I wanted him to eat something so I captured a live Crane Fly. I held the wiggling bug in front of his tiny beak allowing nature took over. He snapped up the large bug gobbling it down in a few quick bites. I scoured my home, finding three more bugs. Finally he seemed sated, so we wished him a pleasant good night.
Sunday morning was bright and warm so we thought it a good chance to take Tweedy outside. He spent the night in the greenhouse warm and quiet. When we spied in on him he seemed much brighter. During the evening and early morning he had fixed up most of his damaged plumage. His demeanor had changed as well, the shock had worn off and he was busily walking around the greenhouse from plant to plant. I tried to feed him some Ash berries but he showed no interest. The blackberry he happily accepted, he proceeded to eat three blackberries, quite a feat for this little fellow. From this time on, he proved to be a berry consuming machine, eating far more than I ever imagined a little bird could. He would consume at least one full handful of berries each day.
The Ash berries were harder and pulpy he had a devil of a time managing the little round berries with his beak. Often the attempt to swallow the berry resulted in it popping out of his mouth landing a couple feet away. He would chase down the berry, trying again to swallow it. Some berries took for or five efforts before success. there were times of course he would suck it up and move on to another berry.
The blackberries were much easier for him to manage. Full of juice they relented quickly to his attack. Attack it was, he made a constant mess tossing the blackberries all over the room. Snapping off small pieces of the bigger berries usually meant the remnants were strewn about. The downside of the blackberries was that they made his beak sticky. To fix this he had to constantly rub his beak on the pot lids to keep it clean.
Without a doubt his favorite on the menu was always flying bugs. I never gave him spiders because they have a sacred spot as co-dwellers in our home. We owe it to spiders to respect their home and protect them from harm. However the flying creatures were fair game. As transients they fall under the domain of prey. As I was benefactor for the Master, I took on the role of provider. Normally all bugs enjoy freedom and safety in our home, however they needed to respect my new role as an ipso facto bird. Punk master T never refused a wiggling insect, the moths were his favorite. Small puffs of moth dust would explode with each bite he took until it was finally devoured.
He seemed extremely calm, much calmer than most caged birds I have encountered. I thought it might be unsettling for him if I picked him up. Instead, he always chose to just climbed on my open fingers allowing me to transport him around the home and outdoors. Outside he was very quiet, he made his way to a small plant near the front door sitting near motionless about a meter away. Every morning we followed the same ritual of placing him in front of the open door allowing him the opportunity to explore or leave. If the weather was good we might get him out three or four times a day. The first two days outdoors he just stayed quiet near cover. Later in the week he started walking around the yard more, on occasion making his way toward the open lot next door.
I was perfectly happy to see him leave however, there was one rule. I did not want to see him leave unless he could fly. I felt there was no point in allowing his total freedom until he was able to fend for his food and safety. A flight to freedom would mean his survival would be much more assured. He never tried more than once a day to hop to freedom. If I brought him back the fifteen or so meters to the front door he was always content to stick around. Leaving him outside for long stretches was not possible as there are two very successful " spy kitties " who are neighbors.
For the most part Tweedy's day was spent with the plants under the warmth of the greenhouse grow light. At times he liked walking around my office, just hanging out while I worked. Many late afternoons Tweedy would be found munching on berries, happy in his basket enjoying some sun in the downstairs living room. As the week progressed his health improved dramatically.
After the first few days Tweedy really showed his character as investigative, calm, trusting and loving. My wife and I tended to his every need, fresh water and berries along with all the bugs he could eat. He was showing signs of trying to fly and was very active in the house. We often encouraged him to test his capacity to fly however, he still could not maintain or increase altitude.
His beautiful attitude to life, mixed with little tuft on his head earned him the nickname " Punk Master T ". Punk, because he arrived probably as a young punk boozed up for the first time. Mater, because he proved himself to be a master of unconditional love and acceptance. T of course represents Tweedy. The internet mentioned the Cedar Waxwing has a reputation for being a very loving and community oriented bird. Not aggressive at all, they tend to get along well with each other. Punk master T is certainly confirmation their reputation is well earned.
Six days after his arrival, my wife and I went out for the evening. My son mentioned Tweedy had made his way to the upstairs bathroom, a fight of 13 stairs from the downstairs where he had been put to bed for the night. This revelation signaled for us the fact Punk Master T must have regained the capacity for flight. We knew he was to soon leave our happy home.
We spent a most wonderful week learning from this tiny creature a valuable lesson of unconditional love, trust and acceptance. Early the next morning my wife and I placed the Master on the doorstep in front of the open patio door. As usual he spent a few moments smelling the fresh air then hopped out of his basket. He walked around the living room entertaining my wife and I while we drank our morning coffee. He eventually made his way back to the basket for some breakfast.
A few moments later he hopped out of his basket flying two meters to a plant on the patio. He sat quietly in the pot amusing himself with the autumn morning. My heart was in my throat I had a feeling this was the moment of his departure. He dipped his little body up and down a few times signifying his desire to lift off. Before I could say a word he was gone. The Master had flown to a tree in the woodlot next to our home. It was a magnificent flight of fifteen meters or so. My wife and I stood in the door watching his euphoric emancipation. I called my son downstairs so he could enjoy this last moment with the Master. He rested on the perch a couple minutes more, relishing his new found flight. Without a glance back he lifted off one final time, never to be seen again. The parting was a mix of great joy and sorrow. Sorrow only for the breaking of a beautiful relationship etched in our memories and hearts forever.
Punk Master T has taught me to better appreciate the ONEness of our reality. Filters of separation keep us from grasping the fact all manifest reality is God experiencing being God in the eternal moment. Punk Master T, you and I are truly one. We are all magnificent reflections of God essence. We can truly love and connect with all reality.
I can imagine myself as a teen, drunk for the first time. I wake up in a strange place with a giant taking care of me. My injuries offer no chance at freedom. I am truly at the mercy of this alien creature.
The reaction most of us would take is that of fear, confusion and certainly a strong desire to escape. Beyond all, we would strive to be home, safe, secure in surroundings we trust. Choosing to be calm, accepting my fate, loving and allow myself to be loved would be defined as a most altruistic response.
This little brother has shown me the truth of this path. He has been a beautiful reminder that unconditional love and acceptance is the surest way to freedom.
Namaste, my brethren, love is all there is, all else is illusion...