Mum for a day

To think that I am eating my cereals from a bowl that has been part of a makeshift nest for a baby bird for a day puts a smile on my face. I think of the little swallow that had fallen from the nest for some reason. I found the shuddering creature on the doormat on a rainy and cold Sunday morning. Nearly stepped on it and was surprised to see that it was still alive. Phoebe must have been away on other business that morning. I gingerly picked the fluffy little fellow up and brought it inside the house. I found several websites for guidance on what to do in such a situation: check the bird for injuries, make sure it is kept warm (step 1: cupping it with the hands, step 2: some sort of cloth in a bowl), then give it a nest and a roof directly over its head.

Next up was finding food for the chick. Freshly caught common flies are recommended and should be present in abundance in summer everywhere but guess what – I could not find a single one in our house. What to do, knowing that if not fed every 30-45 minutes, the little one might not make it? Village community to the rescue! After a quick ask for help, people (mostly kids) were bringing swallow-food to our door so that I could start feeding.

It was force-feeding a first. The tiny creature was not so convinced that much good could come from anyone who looks so different from its mum and dad. Understandable. However, after a couple of feedings, the little fellow got the hang of it. In the afternoon it already gave a loud, demanding chirping sound in my direction when it saw me approach the “nesting bowl” with my tweezers, holding up a juicy fly. To see the wide-open little beak and hear that sound warmed my heart in ways I cannot describe. I was a bit sad when eventually, our neighbour helped with the big ladder to put our temporary guest back to where it belongs – with its family. And there it still is now (last I know, at least), while I am munching my breakfast.

Soon the little swallows will make their first attempts at flying above our house and garden. Will it recognize me? Probably not, but I will think of it whenever I use that bowl.

Warm greetings, wherever this may find you. Enjoy the summer!


  1. This story found me at the perfect time. I was deeply touched by it and realized I was in dire need of exactly this kind of story about caring for others. Thank you, Sonja, thank you indeed.


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