On Thursday last week I had a MS Teams meeting at 11 and I was out of data, along with money to buy, so Eliza offered that I work at her and Nathan’s place for the day. Their little boy, Lambert, aged almost four called for Eliza and I to ‘come look’ and eventually we got round to it. There on the ground in front of the sliding door lay a tiny bird, clearly stunned from flying into the sliding glass door.
I picked it up, took it inside and after requesting an ID on FB, it was determined that the wee winged creature was not an elephant, but indeed a Cape Sugarbird, a species endemic to the Eastern and Western Cape of South Africa.
The poor little mite didn’t move for quite a while. I fed it a bit of sugar water, tried to relaunch it, but it flapped a bit and ended back on the lawn. A bit later in the afternoon, Eliza, the boys and I tried to launch it again – this time it managed to get itself onto a banana strand but the wind was howling and it was clear the little bird was terrified. Using a broom we coaxed it back down and it came home with me. It was only when I walked into The Cave that I had a brain fart and cut open an orange. The little guy stuck his tongue into the sweet, juicy flesh and drank constantly.
I got a box with sawdust which was meant to be his resting place, but he was having none of it. He wanted to sleep on my pillow. Resistance was futile. A few hours into the day and I was besotted. The little bird had adopted me to be his mama, his protector. During the night he cheeped and I held out the orange in my sleep and he’d slurp a bit and we’d both nod off again.
Friday, I went into the office, taking Honey (as named by The Bean) to work with me. Still he wouldn’t stay in the box. He insisted on either sitting on my shoulder while driving, on the dashboard, or cheekily, on the steering wheel.
During lunch I took him to meet The Bean and he flew a bit, gaining some height, but plummeting back to the ground almost as quickly as he’d taken off. The Toppie came in late afternoon and was also enchanted by the little guy. That evening, while I slept on the couch, Honey roosted on its backrest. I was so happy.
Saturday morning, Honey woke before me, flapping around. He liked sitting on The Bean’s mixer which is stored on top of one of the kitchen cupboards. The Toppie made breakfast for The Bean and I and then called me to come see – ‘this bird even watches TV’.
It was clear though, despite Honey’s love of Michael Weatherly, that he wanted to be outside. He kept climbing up the curtain to the windowsill to look out the window. I knew I’d have to let him go. I contacted Eliza and Nathan to find out if they’d be home during the day, because it would be best to release him where he’d been found. We set a time and off I went.
I cried on the way there while Honey sat on the steering wheel staring at the road ahead. I wonder if he sensed that he was going to be able to fly into vast freedom.
Arriving at Eliza and Nathan’s place, we opened the box and Honey flew from the kitchen counter to one of the chairs outside and then onto the highest branch of the closest tree.
His chirping could be heard for quite some time. My heart was heavy – would he be okay? What if the Butcher Bird got him? I didn’t stay long for fear of ugly crying in front of everyone.
Needless to say, I was not my spritely self for the rest of the day. A slice of apple crumble and cream helped the melancholy, but didn’t erase it completely. Neither did sleep.
I can’t believe that in two days this tiny little creature crept so deeply into my heart; that I forged an attachment so quickly. I know I did the right thing, but it doesn’t make the heartache any less…