Friday, March 4, 2011


Several years ago-maybe even five or six at this point, 
I found a baby robin that had fallen out of a tree...

Just a week before I found this one there had been another robin, a smaller one that had fallen from the nest. I had guarded it faithfully in the hopes that its mother would come for it...but though she tried--it was too weak to fly away with her.  I had taken it and tried to nurse it, but to no avail, and so the first little bird died.

When I saw this second bird, I did the same thing, without much hope for a different outcome.  I guarded him all day from the hungry neighborhood cats (some of which belonged to me)...and watched his mother's attempts to coax him into the air.  I watched him as he grew weaker and weaker.  Then, night fell and so I took him in my cupped hands inside, into my garage.

I named him Gus Featherstaff.  
And I prayed he would last till morning.

 He made it through that first night, and many others after growing fat and happy on a diet of nuts and berries I pulverized for him in a blender. He would sing as I brought him his meals and in appreciation Gus often perched on my shoulder, and sometimes  (when he was feeling particularly jovial) the top of my head.

Gus grew, and got strong—he could sing, he could fly, he was merry.

Gus was ready to fly out into the world...but he didn't...

He just waited.  Waited for me to bring him his meals, as I always had.  I tried to talk to him about catching worms and doing robin things, but the truth is that, though I loved him, and I think he loved me, he and I did not speak the same language.

No matter how much I wanted to teach him what he needed to know, what he needed to BE was something that couldn’t be taught.  In my desire to protect him, I kept him from the very thing he needed to be all along.   A robin.

I ended up taking him to a wonderful reserve near my home, they rescue birds and teach them to survive on their own in the wild...They had other robins there, so Gus could acclimate himself to being a robin again.

I cried all the way home.

Often when I see a robin, I call Gus's the hopes that somehow it is him, that he's made his way back to me...and often the robins will cock their head to one side.  So I am almost certain that it's someone that Gus has told about me, perhaps even a son or daughter--

I realized the other day as I called out to a 'Gus' that a wonderful thing had happened in my life...
Every Robin has become a 'Gus' and a friend.

What joy to have held a wild thing in your hand, and to have let it go. 
To hope it will return...and suddenly one Spring day discover that it has returned, 
a hundred times over 
because the HOPE of return is the gift, again, and again, and again.

          If I can stop one heart from breaking
                 I shall not live in vain
                 If I can ease one Life the Aching
                 Or cool one Pain

                 Or help one Fainting Robin
                 Unto his nest again
                 I shall not live in Vain.

                                               -Emily Dickinson

Have a wonderful weekend.


  1. This is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. Thank you for such a sweet way to start my day.

  2. You are a girl after my own heart! Thank you for sharing this lovely story.

  3. I just found your blog, and you made me CRY!!!!! I'm sure Gus has been back to see you. I have the same relationship with squirrels. Everyone is a Rocky to me, so I understand.