Monday, October 8, 2012

The Homecoming

A dramatic scene unfolded at Casa de Glow yesterday afternoon. Like a lot of important events in my life (such as my own engagement) it started with me being woken up from a nap. What? Isn’t everyone woken up from a nap to be proposed to? No? Awkward. Righty-o, moving on.

“Glow, there’s an injured bird in the yard. I need your help so Sprocket doesn’t eat it”

Map Guy produced a big black shoe box and told me the bird was inside. I peeked in. It was so small and fragile. It had long scrawny legs and fluffy grey wings that stood out at awkward angles.

But it wasn't injured, it was just a baby. Something inside me stirred. It was only a bird, sure, but I felt an intense urge to protect it. To make sure it got home safe. Reunited with its family.

We put the dog inside and placed the baby bird on our weedy lawn with a lid of water in front of it and stood back to see if it would try to move. It didn’t.

I thought it might already be too late.

But then it blinked, opened its mouth wide and cheeped.

What we can only assume were the parents started flitting around anxiously watching us. The Google Gods tell me they were White-cheeked Honeyeaters. After a few minutes the mama bird swooped down to feed it. I wanted to take a photo but I didn’t want to go any closer and scare it. Plus I’ve not had much luck with wild animals recently and had visions of the mama bird swooping me and becoming lodged in my eyeball. So I stayed well back.

Image: Ralph Green
She flew off and landed on the fence near her peers, all of them watching closely, never straying far from the baby. My heart broke and I cursed evolution for not giving them arms or hands or an Ergo.

We studied the trees around us and the five or six other identical birds swooping in and out of our neighbour’s tree that overhangs our fence provided a useful clue as to the whereabouts of the nest though we couldn’t actually see through the dense branches.

I ducked inside to call to the vet to find out exactly what we should do while MG kept guard. The receptionist said as long as the parents were still fretting and trying to feed it then we could put it on any branch in the tree and it would be helped back. If they weren’t? Well it was likely the little dude had been pushed and would just be pushed out again. Darwinism at it's finest.

By the time I came back the previously motionless bird had flapped it’s wings and managed to half fly half jump a few metres. A definite improvement on its previous movement record of blinking. We took it as an excellent sign that it was in fact not on death's door.

Map Guy put the bird back in the shoebox, made all the more difficult now that it had decided to attempt this ass-bumping half fly half jump routine and lifted it in to the tree. Then the most amazing thing happened... the whole tree, full of Honeyeaters we hadn't even seen, erupted in tweets.

As in the cheep cheep kind, not the @MamaHoneyeater: “OMG @BabyHoneyeater is being lifted in to the tree by @MapGuy83 while @Glowless looks on holding that kid with the cheeks” kind.

Now it might be my hormones or the fact that my rellies are here from interstate for their own reunion to see their dying mum, my Nanna, but the loud and frenzied cheeping heralding his homecoming pulled at my heartstrings with its unmistakably triumphant chorus. They were overjoyed at the little guy's return and all I could think about was how my Nanna would have felt that same joy in these last few days, seeing her five children at her bedside.

We stood and watched the baby bird hop from branch to branch until he was deep inside the protective arms of the tree. He was home. Safe and sound.

And it was all I could do not to weep.

Postscript: I wrote this at 4pm on the 7th of October and set it to publish for the morning. Just after 9pm my Nanna died after a long illness. I'm sure she chose to go then because she was finally secure in the knowledge that her five children were home. Safe and sound.


  1. Sorry to hear about Nanna's passing. I'm sure you're right about choosing to go when she did and why. much love Lady Glow. Beautiful story about the baby bird too. xxx

  2. Sorry to hear about your Nanna. It's lovely that you were able to reunite the baby bird with its family and I am sure you are right about your Nanna feeling at peace surrounded by her babies. xx

  3. I'm sorry to hear about your Nan Glow. Much love to you and your family. Xx

  4. I'm so sorry to her about your Nanna :( Mine too passed away on the day a bunch of us visited from interstate. She rallied whilst we were there but that night when we were all back home, she peacefully slipped away. I pray your family finds peace in these very sad times xx

  5. Oh. I'm not sure where to start. I was suspiciously teary at the bird tweets. But I'm so sorry about your Nanna. I agree with you - having her entire clan (Stupid. I wrote Flan twice. I'm sure a flan would also have been welcome) was together.

    Love to you and your entire family. I hope that being together can offer some measure of comfort. If not, try the flan. Bitches love flan. (Sorry. I don't know what the F is wrong with me this morning).

  6. Oh Glow..... I'm not really sure what to write.
    So sorry about your Nan, and yet so happy about the bird at the same. I bet she would have loved that story

  7. Kelley @ magnetoboldtooOctober 8, 2012 at 6:25 AM

    I love you. Be strong my friend. Sending my love and tears your way.

  8. What a great little story and what fabulous people you and Mapguy are for rescuing said little bird :)

    I'm sorry for the loss of your Nanna. I love that photo you posted on Facebook of her and you at your wedding, such joy in both your faces x

    "I'm sure she chose to go then because she was finally secure in the knowledge that her five children were home. Safe and sound."

    And yup, I know of a few people who have held on until all family members were present, so they were surrounded by people they love.


  9. So sorry to hear about your Nan. It is wonderful she was surrounded by family xxxxx

  10. A lovely story and hugs to you over the loss of your Nana. I lost my father in March this year and my brother in law 2 weeks ago. It is hard as you get older and lose the people close to you. I have just discovered your blog and have added you to my daily reads on my blog. I look forward to reading often.
    Take care

  11. I'm so sorry to read this Glow. Beautifully written post, I think I have something in my eye x

  12. I'm so sorry to hear about your nanna Glow. Lots of Hugs to you and your family. I'm sure your right when you say she chose to go because all her children were safe. I'm always here if you need to talk at all.

  13. I needed to read this today. Idk. Something about the story, that there are people who will catch you if you fall and help you back up. The reaching out of a hand. It's beautiful.

    As a side note I am terribly sorry to hear about your nana. This year has been hard on you :(

  14. Oh Glow, I'm so sorry about your grandmother. Wow. You know, my mom was very ill but hung on until my brother and his family arrived from out-of-state. That was a long time ago, but we all just knew she was waiting for him before she went.

    That is a really beautiful story about the bird. You are a savior of baby birds. x

  15. Such a lovely story, and so sorry to hear about your grandmother. Love this post; a beautiful reminder of the value of family and community xx

  16. You are good people. I'm sorry to hear about your Nanna. No doubt she will be dearly missed. Still it sounds like her life was full of love and that is something to celebrate.

  17. I'm so glad the story has a happy ending. My son used to bring into our home lorikeets all the time. I used to be on the phone to WIRES all the time. I took so many baby birds to the house where one of the women from WIRES lived. We weren't ever clever enough to assist them back into their nests. I so sorry to hear about your grandmother. That's devastating news xx

  18. I've been so slack at blog reading this week. So, I am late to tell you how much this blog post moved me, You are such a sensitive and talented writer. I love how you put your words together and I can visualise everthing you described..
    This has been a rough time in the family losing your Nanna. Nanna passing once her family had 'flown home' to be togehter is such a beautiful thing.
    Love you much! Denyse xx


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