This animal rescuer learned valuable life lessons from the resilient baby bird.
It was a typical morning for Kara Twomey. She was taking her rescue pup, Cassie, for a walk in her Winnipeg, Canada, neighborhood, when a loud caw startled her. Some crows rose up in a flurry of black feathers. One of them had snatched a baby robin, but as the crow took flight, it dropped the baby to the ground. Kara rushed over.
Cassie took a closer look, sniffing the tiny creature. Kara knew she couldn’t leave him there. Gently, she carried him back home and settled him in a box lined with grass. “He looked like he was in shock,” she says. The fall had injured the robin’s feet, and he wasn’t able to curl his toes to perch.
“I’ve always been an animal person,” Kara says. She has worked with rescued elephants in Sri Lanka and monkeys at a sanctuary in Guatemala. “I have also rehabilitated injured birds. But this robin was different. He couldn’t fly yet; he needed a mom.”
A veterinarian friend recommended that Kara feed the bird dabs of wet cat food using a tiny paintbrush. “It was like having a human baby,” Kara says. “I was feeding him every hour, changing the water, changing the grass and leaves in his box. It was a lot of work.”
After a week together, Kara started bringing Squeaker—named for his talkative nature—out to her yard, where he would hop in the grass. He needed to learn how to perch and fly. In the beginning, he was able to get only a few inches off the ground. He would practice inside by flying up each step of Kara’s staircase. Soon his foot healed, and his wings grew strong enough to take him up to low branches in a tree. Kara always stayed close because several cats prowled the neighborhood. Within a few weeks she knew he was ready to spend the night outside in the tree.
“That first night was such a milestone,” Kara says. “I was excited for him but sad he’d be gone.” In the morning, Kara heard chirping. She looked out to see Squeaker’s head poking through the branches of the tree. “He was like, ‘I’m still here!’”
For the next couple of weeks, every time Kara went outside Squeaker would fly over and land on her shoulder or head. He’d even stand on her forehead while she sunbathed in the yard. When she went into the house, he chirped for her. And when she taught him how to dig for worms, he’d stand on her foot—always as close to his rescuer as possible. “I really became his mom,” she says. “We bonded. I loved this little creature.”
One day, Squeaker decided it was time for him to explore on his own. He flew off, out of sight. Kara had known for some time that this day would come. She just hoped she had done enough to prepare the robin for the big world out there.
One month later, Kara was outside with Cassie when Squeaker swooped down and landed on a branch right near her head. “I was so happy to see him and to watch him flying so well,” she says. “I think he wanted to show me he was okay.” They chirped back and forth for a few minutes, Kara holding back tears.
“We don’t think of the common bird as anything special, but Squeaker taught me so much with his love and his determination to recover. It was inspiring. It’s a reminder of how connected we all are.”
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