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Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:55 pm

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Little Lopsy literally fluttered into our home and our hearts one Saturday morning this summer. My husband had to run an errand, and when he opened the front door there was a great flutter on the ground and something (at first I thought it was a bat) came into the living room. It was clear that whatever it was, was hurt.

I was in a bit of a shock and didn't know what to do next. Fortunately it calmed down and tried to hide itself in a corner. It was just a bundle of skin and gray fluff, and I realized it was a sparrow chick. There are a few house sparrow nests under the awning of our apartment building, and this little fellow must have fallen out and hurt itself. It was also very, very young, and obviously far from ready to leave the safety of the nest.

I ran to the shed and found a box. Having read somewhere that one shouldn't touch a baby bird with one's hands (because by doing so one could cause the parents to reject it), I picked the chick up with a hand towel and put it in the box. I placed the box outside the front door in the hope that the parents would try to feed it. They never came near it and I brought it inside. I placed the box on a table in the spare bedroom and it slept for about twenty hours. We later learned that it is quite normal for a hurt bird to sleep sleep so much after undergoing such a traumatic experience.

When it eventually woke up we carefully examined it for wounds or blood, but fortunately there wasn't any. It was totally lopsided, though: it had hurt its right wing and leg, which meant it must have landed on its right side when it fell out of the nest. We named it Lopsy.

After doing a bit of research on the internet we felt there was a chance that it might survive, but we weren't sure that it would ever be able to fly. A hurt bird doesn't stand much of a chance of survival and could fall easy pray to cats, other predators or the elements. Was it fair to allow it to live if it meant keeping it in a cage its whole life? It was a tough decision, but we decided to give it a go. It goes without saying that Lopsy was a much prayed-over little bird.

We started off by dripping drops of water into its beak with a small spoon. It was very thirsty and drank quite a bit. Next we spoon-fed it with bread soaked in water. That seemed to go down well. Our household routine soon revolved around Lopsy who needed to be fed about every three hours during the day. At least it slept right through the night. Fortunately we live on campus and my husband was able to come home during his breaks to feed our new baby.

After a couple of days I got quite concerned because its 'birdy-doo' wasn't looking as it should. My husband had the great idea of mixing small amounts of raw liver with the bread and water, and this seemed to do the trick. Soon Lopsy was growing nicely. The bigger it got, the more vocal it became. There was no doubt as to who was ruling the roost.

We remained concerned because its leg did not heal, and its wing seemed quite useless. I took it outside for a bit of exercise every day. I also hoped it would get used to the sights and sounds of nature. In the beginning all it was interested in was staying as close to me as possible.

Anyway, it got stronger and started hopping (mostly sideways) on the grass, and one day Lopsy found a hedge it liked. It got to the point where I would leave it outside under its hedge for about two hours at a time while I kept an eye on developments from our kitchen window. Soon Lopsy figured out how to get from one branch to another.

It also got to the point where it could flutter down from my hand to the ground, and I let it do this over and over again to exercise its wings. Then came the day that it actually flew into the hedge. We were overjoyed when this happened.

Eventually it got to the point where I left it outside in its hedge all day and night, but I would still go outside to feed it. Lopsy remained vocal and would hop over for its food as soon as I came into view. I left some bread crumbs on the wall next to the hedge, but it would have none of it. The little rascal was totally spoilt and wanted to be spoon fed, but I saw him pecking quite happily as soon as I left his line of vision. Some of the bigger species of birds were a bit aggressive towards Lopsy, and I continued to keep a close eye on it.

Not long after this we saw Lopsy flying without a problem and praised God for it. It still hopped to the side, but that didn't seem to hinder it in any way. Other birds seemed quite curious about Lopsy. At first it chased them away if they came too close to its hedge, but Lopsy soon seemed to realize that they were of its own kind and it stopped doing so. Then, one day, our fledgling 'left the nest'. We never saw it again, but I know Little Lopsy is now leading the life God meant it to live.

This experience has taught me a few important lesson, namely that things are never as desperate as they seem, and not to give up hope as long as there is still life.



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