Three hours of bird ownership

We were the proud owners of a baby finch for a few hours tonight. It was an orange cheeked waxbill. Olivia found it under a tree at school.

She begged us to bring it home, so we relented. Really, as a tired mother, I’m trying for reduction by attrition of the number of lives I’m responsible for.

When the cat ditched us to go live at the next-door neighbor’s house (where there are no children), I didn’t green-light another cat. When the dog, now 13, dies, I’m on a fence about replacing her.

The only other pets I have live in the water, and require less time and attention than a mammal. The betta only needs to be fed a few flakes in the morning. My shrimp require even less care. 

So the baby bird. It had all its feathers and was just a sweet little puff of adorable! How could I say no to caring for it – at the very least, just long enough to get it stable and let it fly off on its own?

Olivia named it Mr. Birdie. (Pronouns: he/him/his.) She found a shoebox and gussied up a makeshift home for him. She wanted him to have premium roosting material so she got him an old shirt to sit on.

She lavished much time and attention on the bird this afternoon. She was very happy. She picked it up and pet it, and kept carrying it around the house. She tried to hand feed it.

The bird kept its eyes closed most of the time. “That’s because it’s had a big day,” she decided.

Olivia and I researched it to learn about the breed and how to care for it. Our houseguests, Christian and Yuki, were out with a man who happens to be a bird expert, and collected information for us.

One of the things I learned was that it lives in the grass and likes to roost in branches. I heard chirping and scratching, and saw it was squeezing itself between the t-shirt and the side of the box. 

“How cute,” I said. “He’s trying to feel secure under the shirt.”

Half an hour went by. Olivia went to shower and came back out. 

“Hey, Hon. I learned it’s called an orange waxbill, and if it’s a male, it’ll grow up to have a nice song,” I told her.

She looked in the box to check on Mr. Birdie. “No he won’t. He’s dead.”


Claus and I went over and looked in the box. Yes, he had smooshed himself into the corner and died. Maybe in his death throes he had a spasm, because one of his wings was awkwardly extended. Meaning, he sure looked dead.

“Are you sure?” I said. I poked him. Nothing.

We all got over the shock of the sudden death, which really shouldn’t be such a surprise since he kept his eyes closed most of the afternoon. He was letting us pet him and at the time, I thought, “Oh, he’s so friendly. He likes it!” Or… he’s deathly ill and was too tired to protest.

I asked Olivia if we should have a funeral for him. She said no. I said, “So – then just toss him in the garbage outside?”

That was too harsh for her. My kid’s middle-ground solution was to put him back in a tree.

“Um, he’s dead. I’m not putting a dead bird back in a tree,” I pointed out. “We’ll bury him.”

Not wanting to deal with a gross corpse tomorrow, we did it tonight. So out we went with a shovel; my husband as the undertaker, me as the pastor, and Olivia as the service attendee.

Claus dug a small hole and I put Mr. Birdie in and briefly eulogized it. “Thank you for choosing to spend your last hours with us,” I said. And that was that. I hope we brought some comfort to him in his final hours.

Author(s) on this Post

Diane Ako

Peace of mind By Diane Ako I like to reflect on life. Sometimes it’s philosophically. Sometimes it’s humorously. For all its beauty, life is far too difficult a journey to take alone. You need the support and connection with others to help carry you along the way. Writing brings me that connection– within and without. It clarifies my thoughts and feelings. It helps me reach out to others for advice, wisdom, or feedback. Your thoughts become your actions. Your actions become you. A wise yogi- Patanjali- said, “Speak what is true. Speak what is pleasant.” Let’s speak of things pleasant to one another and seek some peace of mind along the way. ABOUT Diane Ako joined Hawaii: In Real Life in October 2016. She likes being part of a community of local bloggers – people who like writing and sharing, like she does. Ako is an anchor/ reporter at Island News (KITV4 – ABC) in Honolulu. She previously anchored and reported at KHON2 (FOX) and KHNL (NBC), and at stations in California, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. She freelance writes for NMG Network's magazines. In between news jobs, in 2017, she launched and ran her own p.r. company, Diane Ako PR. From 2010-2014, she headed the public relations department at Halekulani Corporation, which oversees luxury resort Halekulani and boutique hotel Waikiki Parc. She’s been blogging since 2009 – before Hawaii: IRL, she wrote for The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the state’s largest daily newspaper, where her stories garnered a dozen journalism awards and an Emmy nomination. Ako has a BA in Communications from Menlo College and an MA in Political Science from University of Hawaii at Manoa. She volunteers as a board member of the Honolulu Gay & Lesbian Cultural Foundation, a Shinto shrine maiden at Daijingyu Temple, a citizen-scientist studying shrimp, and a yoga teacher at a senior center.

Diane Ako has 274 posts and counting. See all posts by Diane Ako

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