Cats, birds, and nature don’t always  – or maybe ever – mix. We get busy and distracted in our important lives – starting a new practice, entertaining and improving my level of fitness and oops. Right now I’m grateful to a tiny baby bird, who reminded me about the courage to begin again and again, to make space for practice.

Here’s what happened

Two days ago, a baby bird came into our lives and reminded us about moral clarity. I was pulling weeds in my garden, stood and came around the corner of the house and there it was – a naked egg-shaped baby bird between the paws of my two-year-old cat Bandit. Clearly alive. Clearly struggling.

My beloved and I live atop a hill overlooking an undisturbed field (no spring cut). There are too few uncut fields anywhere these days. A type of bird in New England nests in fields – I don’t know its name but I can show you two of them right now, perched in the tall grass courageously watching their nest and babies – I believe they are endangered.

I scooped up the hatchling so it would not be eaten alive, showed Craig, brought it inside, and made a little nest out of cotton and leaves in a flower pot. I thought I would just make it comfortable as it died and I tried to forgive myself for said death. I googled, made calls and started to find my way to people who could help with information or maybe even save this little one. That might take me off the hook for this possibly endangered bird that my cats have been feasting on while making me feel as though I was doing my part – check!

Fearless fighting Freddie lives

I found out that you can feed them softened cat food. It was clear this little one was not going to die immediately, his neck strained and little beak opened wide for the dropper. He grabbed that dropper and sucked with force. Wow. Impressive.

Through that first night, with (fearless fighting) Freddie cheep-cheeping every 45 minutes, and me rolling over to feed it, it was clear that 1. he might actually live and, and 2. we needed to – as every bird-oriented wildlife person will tell you –  keep the cats in to give the other babies a fighting chance. Maybe weeks. Or forever.

Freddie dies but lives on

Freddie died the next day after a valiant effort – he spent much of a day and a half in that upstretched open-mouthed position that is so cute. He/she died for a hundred possible reasons including that he was too warm/cold/over-hydrated/underhydrated/had internal injuries/the wrong food/or handled too much. I loved that little bird. I could recognize his/her voice cheep-peeping every 45 minutes. Craig loved him too – we decided, after he made it through the night, that we would roll him into the family – do what we had to to take care of the little fellow. This in spite of the mess and stink and the fact that I really do not like bird-pets. We also have 3 cats.

Through the experience, we were reminded that once in a while doing the right thing comes and smacks you in the face. We have to keep the cats in, regardless of how cute they are as they scamper to the door when we make the slightest move in that direction. Maybe for weeks. At least until those two parents are no longer guarding their nest. Maybe indefinitely.

It reminded us, too, that as conscious beings we have to practice – we can’t just wander on and let nature and life take its course. We had a lot of house guests around the time Freddie came into our lives and had stopped practicing. We were less connected to nature than usual. Tending the land comes with responsibility – now that we know those birds are there, we can’t let the cats out. If a little Freddie shows up because we didn’t know or weren’t paying attention, we try to rise to the occasion. Peep peep!

Now what? The answer is always practice

Freddie is now resting-in-peace near his nest. I am grateful to that little fellow and to the practice of mindfulness that allows me to slow down enough to learn from all the crazy things that are unfolding around me.

A good reason to think about joining our online group – to begin (or begin again) to practice mindful living.