“This is so sad,” Keith said as he picked up the body on the deck below the window, “come see.” It was a male Eastern blue bird.
I was reminded of the first time my children experienced the death of a bird, or in their case, birds. David and Jessica were very young—one and four years old—when we moved into a house that had a family of barn swallows already living in the chimney. When the fledglings tried to leave the nest, something about the construction of the chimney prevented their flight upward and out. Instead, each dropped down onto the damper and perished.
“Poor birdie die,” David said as he toddled by the fireplace.
When my parents visited us in Texas that August, my father and I climbed onto the roof and mortared a piece of wire mesh over the chimney top so the momma barn swallow wouldn’t take up residence again. But ten years later, she or another female came back. Once again, hatchlings chirped in our chimney. Evidently, the mesh had disintegrated.
I contacted a chimney sweep company to install a cap and remove the nest intact. Using a specialized grabber pole, the young man reached up beyond the damper and carefully dislodged the mud nest from the brick. He lowered the nest to a waiting pillow then cradled the squalling hatchlings.
“Isn’t this cool?” he said, his face gleaming with wonder.
As the chimney sweep placed the pillowed birds in his van and drove off to the Outdoor Learning Center, now the Holifield Science Learning Center, the momma barn swallow swooped and screeched. Then she fluttered around our chimney, searching for a way inside what would have been her fledglings’ tomb. The next day, she was gone.
Today as I write, I think about mothers and children, of Passover and of Mary standing near the foot of the cross, watching her son’s crucifixion then later hearing of his resurrection.
“So beautiful,” Keith said as he cradled the blue bird. How awesome is God’s creation, I thought. How sorrowful is death. How wonderful the life to come will be.
I wish you all a blessed Easter.
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