It’s been pouring rain here in Utah the past three days. Yesterday was no exception. As the kids and I were driving to a dance performance for the girls I saw some birds flying up from the road just ahead of us. I looked more closely and saw a very small bird, just hopping in the middle of the road and not flying. "What in the world?!" I said. "What is that tiny bird?" I stopped the car and we got out.
Lo and behold–the bird was a tiny baby House Finch, a fledgling, big enough to leave the nest but not capable of flying yet. It was SO CUTE. And we knew that he/she was right in the path of oncoming traffic and the next car that came along would kill him. I had learned a couple of years ago that the whole "don’t touch baby birds because their parents will smell humans and abandon them" thing is a MYTH. Birds don’t have a very good sense of smell–they rely mainly on sight and hearing. (See this excellent article and video for good instructions of what to do if you find a baby bird.)
I also knew that a bird with most of his "baby fluff" gone and his regular, "adult" feathers grown in had likely left the nest on purpose and just needed to be left alone…but out of the road, of course! We could hear his very worried parents in the tree nearby.
So I told Ciara to gently pick up the baby and carry him to the sidewalk. She bent down and cupped her hands around the baby, and he climbed right into her hands. The look on her face as she carried him to the sidewalk was one I’ll never forget. As she put the baby down carefully near the grass and away from the road, she said, "This is the best day of my life."
We were so glad we had come along right then because as Ciara was walking to the sidewalk to put him down, a car came along right where he’d been. The baby would’ve died if we were five minutes later leaving our house.
The kids went back later to check on him and make sure he wasn’t back in the road. There was no sign of him, and we hope that his parents (rather than a cat or something!) took him to a safe place where he can spend his next few weeks learning to find food on the ground and growing more feathers and developing his muscles until he can safely fly away.