Bird rescue
Yesterday, I awoke to find my feeders overwhelmed by sparrows. It is not uncommon for us to have 40 to 50 house sparrows at a time but luckily they mostly prefer eating the cheap seed we throw on the ground for them and the juncos. As I watched the scurrying, hopping and squabbling of this mass of birds, I realized that these weren't house sparrows. We had over 40 American Tree Sparrows under the feeders with more in the bush waiting. These little guys are native to Canada and Alaska and breed on the tundra. When I observed that perhaps the weather was about to turn colder, my daughter asked if they could be getting ready to migrate home. Good thoughts from my little one. Perhaps it is a mixture of both since temperatures dove last night with a wind chill below zero.

A dog ran through the back yard, startling our spectacle and sending the flock into the pine tree. (They are getting used to the activity around our house and usually don't stray far when startled. Sometimes, a brave soul will even stay on the feeder until just before I reach it while I'm out filling the feeders.) Two flew straight into the window. The first one stood on the ledge for a minute, staring into the window, trying to figure out what happened. When I leaned over and he saw me, he flew off immediately. No harm seemed done. The other, however, landed back in the snow twitching his wings.

The largest danger to this little guy was not the unlikelihood of any actual injury due to the collision. He hadn't hit that hard. It was the likelihood of either being found by a predator or succumbing to shock. When I went out, he let me pick him up without so much as a flutter, although he was standing upright and seemed alert. I brought him into the house, and my children found a cardboard box and a blanket. The best treatment in such a case it a warm, dark place to hide until the bird has calmed down. I admired his beautiful chestnut stripes as I placed him in the box and covered it with a blanket.

After about ten minutes, we heard some scuttling in the box and my son carefully carried it outside. My daughter removed the blanket and we returned inside to watch. The little sparrow immediately hopped up to the edge of the box and looked around. His flock was gone and he just hopped around the edge, looking at everything. Finally, a few juncos landed and a few more American tree sparrows flew into the pine tree. He seemed instantly attracted to their sounds, looked up at the tree and flew into it. He rested on a branch for awhile and finally joined his feathered brethren as they flew on to another feeding location.

It reminded us of Matthew 10:29: Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

Often times, we meet unexpected obstacles and fall to the ground. The greatest danger is not generally the obstacle we struck, but our stunned reaction to it. And sometimes, the best treatment is to temporarily seek shelter where the distractions and stimuli are minimized.

Don't forget the Great Backyard Bird Count. If it really does warm up this afternoon, we will be off to a forested area for our first count session!

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