At the beginning of the summer, my husband came home from work, telling the girls he had something special for them, and it was a matter of life and death.
Of course, they were intrigued, and I reluctantly went along with them.
As he walked away, no doubt to return with the surprise, our anticipation was high. My girls sat bewildered, and I sat a bit nervous as I imagined all the things he could have brought home. To our delight, he walked carefully up with a sweet baby sparrow! He had found it on the hot sidewalk, fallen from her nest that was unknowingly washed away by building maintenance. She could have only been a couple of days old. She was all beak, fragile, and precious.
We were all immediately enamored, and decided to step up to the task of raising her.
It was not easy, Little Peeps, as we named her, needed to be fed very often. Her loud ‘peeps’ acted as a dinner bell day and night. It really is amazing how much a little bird can eat!
As the days went on, we watched Peeps grow stronger and bigger. The little pin feathers opened up and her face started to fill into her beak.
Peeps knew us, trusted us, and flittered about with happiness when she saw us.
After a couple weeks, Peeps was trying to fly. We took her outside for some test runs. She flew a few feet, then hopped trustingly back up on our finger when she was done. We hung her cage outside so she could see and hear other birds. She soon learned to fly, but still needed help eating.
We were all dreading the day of having to release her. We had become attached to this little bird, but knew she needed the freedom to fly, and have a happy sparrow life – outside the cage.
We know when it was time. We painted her toenails as a marker. We all gathered round, video in hand, said our good-byes, and let her go. She flew off with purpose. We thought she was gone. A few tears were swelling in the little one’s eyes.
We saw her land in a nearby tree. After awhile of watching her, we tried calling to her. She gleefully skipped down to us, sat on our fingers, and visited for a bit. It was wonderful. This continued on for the next few days. We were all delighted with this new arrangement, and imagined sharing many friendly visits in the future.
Our summer vacation was quickly approaching. We were going to be gone for a couple weeks, and had arranged for her cage to be left open with fresh food and water put in it while we were gone, just in case she wanted to indulge. We were told she visited a few times, but by the end of the first week she was not returning. We were saddened, but off on our own adventure.
When we came home, we searched, called, and waited patiently. Every now and then, we think we see her, but we are never sure if it is her or not. One thing is for certain though, our hearts are softened to every little sparrow we see flying…and we will never forget the sweet experience of raising Little Peeps.