It was so helpless- I held the little baby chick in the palm of my hand, and I couldn’t help the tears that were stinging the corners of my eyes. I had found the little one on the bottom of my pet birds’ cage, and it was amazingly still alive, even though it was quite cold. I held him there gently, stroking his tiny, fragile back, trying to warm him up before returning him to the safety of the nest inside of the cage. I couldn’t help it- I felt such a deep strong love for this little baby, as though he were my own little creation. Of course, he wasn’t. He was just a bird, right? But still, I couldn’t help my love for him. Finally, after several minutes of cradling the little one in my hand and watching him flop his tiny featherless wings around, squeaking quietly to himself, I decided to return him to his parents. Naturally Kia and Mercury (mama and daddy birds), flitted nervously around the cage, crying in alarm as I opened the door and inserted my hand. I could see them watching me closely as I put my hand closer and closer to the nest and their cries got louder, no doubt worried I was going to disrupt their children huddled in the nest. Gently, I plopped the little zebra finch in his little home and hurriedly shut the door to the cage to stop them from screaming so loudly. I heaved a sigh as I watched the mama jump inside the nest, as if to make sure that her little lost chick was safe and sound.
As I went to bed that night, the scene replayed in my mind of that little chick on the bottom of the cage- it was the second time I had found one like that. Whether or not it was the same bird each time, I don’t know for sure. But I knew I had to keep an eye out for the little ones to make sure none of the others fell to the bottom- I couldn’t bear to see one die. As I laid there and thought about my new-parent birds, I came up with this simple blog post- parenting, as done by my pet zebra fiches. Though this is in no way serious parenting advice based on a pair of captive birds, I did realize a few good points and thoughts about parenting as I have been observing these little creatures- my first time watching a pair of animals raising their young on their own- and I would like to share them with you.
-Let me throw out a disclaimer here- I am not a parent. I have never been a parent, and I may never be one if the Lord doesn’t will it. But, I do have some traditional ideas and thoughts about parenting that I plan on implementing if and when I ever have children of my own; which is what I am sharing in these next few thoughts.
To start out, I noticed something very peculiar about Mercury the other day as I was quietly observing my birds in their cage- his feathers were ruffled up, and he looked pretty… beat up. Honestly he looked like he had gotten in a fist fight- er- a beak fight with Dodge, the other male zebra finch, recently. Hoping they weren’t trying to beat each other up, I kept a close watch on the males to be sure. However, not too much later that day I glanced in the cage as I was going by and saw Mercury with a beak-ful of feathers. I watched as he hopped up to the nest full of babies, jumped in, then quickly jumped out. The feathers were gone this time- and I watched in surprise as he nonchalantly reached down, plucked a couple feathers from his tummy, and then hopped back into the nest with the babies. He was pulling out his own feathers in order to give soft bedding for his little chicks! (Note: I realize now that I should have supplied soft bedding for the babies, since alfalfa hay and cedar chips aren’t exactly the softest mattress in the world, especially for new hatchlings). I find it sort of amazing the sacrifices that the daddy was making for his babies. Not only was he constantly trying to make the nest more comfortable for the chicks, but he was yanking out his own feathers to do so!
I also noticed how much Mercury decided to sit on the chicks, and give mama Kia a break from sitting on and feeding the babies. He even made sure to grab food for himself so he could feed them when he took turns sitting on them! Normally, this is very common for animals and birds in the wild- but it’s really heartwarming to see it happen right in front of you. I can watch as mama will sit on the babies for long periods of time, and daddy will go and grab some food, just to carry it up to her so she doesn’t have to get up. And when she is tired from being in the nest all day, she will jump out and he makes sure he goes right in after her so that the babies won’t have a lot of time without one of the parents. Here, I can’t help but notice the sacrifices that the mom and dad make for these little chicks. They are constantly up and about, one sitting on them and feeding, and the other gathering material or gathering food to take to the other. I can’t imagine running around all day, trying to keep a baby fed and comfortable, let alone three or four..! I have yet to experience that at all… so, I definitely commend mothers (and fathers) all over the world.
I remember a number of years ago when I was still living with my parents and we had pet parakeets; there was two females and one male in the cage. The male decided to pair with one of the two females- resulting in a batch of eggs. But we sadly noticed that the other female had also laid a batch of eggs, too. It was clear that the unpaired female had unfertilized eggs, however- the other female wasn’t being a very good mama. She wasn’t sitting on her eggs, and we were worried that they would die if they didn’t get some attention from a mama bird soon. So in a desperate attempt to try and save the birds, we switched out the two batches of eggs- we gave the fertilized eggs to the unpaired female who faithfully sat in her nest, and the “empty” eggs to the other one. Happily, we watched as the fertilized eggs hatched after a week or so, and little baby parakeets emerged in the cage. But, that joy soon dwindled when we started seeing the babies dying in the nest. Sadly, the male bird was not paired to the mama who was taking care of his babies- and he was a very vital part in caring for the young. You see, the mama needs the daddy to either being sitting on the chicks for her while she goes and eats, or he needs to bring her food. Poor daddy didn’t understand that the babies she was sitting on was his… and so he didn’t bother to help her out by bringing her food or sitting on the babies. So she was having to do this all on her own- which simply does not work. She was leaving them alone for too long, and they were getting cold… And sadly, all of them died because of this. It was a terribly sad time for our little bird family. 😦
There’s quite a bit to learn about this- fathers really are an integral part of parenting. Though we humans are different, we can technically take care of our children with only one parent, it’s simply not meant to be this way. Babies need their daddy in their lives, along with their mothers. It’s very obvious in nature- like the pet parakeets we used to have, and the baby zebra finches I have growing up in my own home.
So what am I really blabbing on about in this blog post? Mainly just my experiences with my pet birds, and the life lessons I’m apparently gaining from watching them. Sorry if this was alittle yawn-inducing; I’m really trying to get myself organized with all this blog post stuff, and my goal is to get one post out a week. So bear with me as I continue to pull myself together out here. 🙂
Psalm 103:13 “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.”
Photo credit- Google Images