Last year my family and I spent a day and a half rescuing Albert the Squirrel. My daughter gave him the name. The squirrel pup was displaced after a storm apparently blew it out of its nest.
The experience of saving him gave our two kids, then age 5 and 8, something to focus on for nearly two days.
Placing the squirrel in a cage, getting it something to drink to rehydrate and feeding it -- the idea of doing something bigger than yourself offered a great experience for all of us.
This week nature offered us another opportunity to act. I should say nature and a 13-foot above ground pool that sits in our backyard.
My son noticed something splashing about the pool and went to investigate. It was a black bird, we think a starling.
He told my wife about it and she grabbed a net to save it. By this time the bird was barely moving.
My daughter joined in the rescue and as she did last year, she gave our backyard victim a name: Steve the Starling.
The lethargic bird was easy to handle and my wife placed him in a pet carrier that we use to transport our cats to the vet.
The strategy: let the bird dry off, inside and out. To help ease his stress he was placed Steve in a bathroom, away from us, our dog and our three cats.
After several hours, the bird began to flap around in the cage.
The time had come for the big release. I arrived on the scene just in time to remind my kids how we witnessed a bald eagle release last fall, near Traverse City. The eagle was found nearly dead, but was rehabbed over a period of a few months. A public release party let up to 500 people see the fierce bird up close.
After an explanation by wildlife experts as to how the eagle lives and the role it plays in nature, the crowd formed into a half circle. The majestic bird was released on the open end of the circle and the crowd oohed and awed -- like watching a fireworks show as it soared high into the air, disappearing into the forest. It was an amazing experience and you couldn't peel the smile off our faces if you tried.
(For future public releases go to http://www.wingsofwonder.org/ )
Now it was our turn to release Steve the Starling. This time, just our intimate group of four. We placed the cage on our patio table and opened it.
My 6-year-old daughter called and sang to the bird. My son chirped at it. The bird just sat there in the opening of the cage.
Could he still fly? The drama was real. I encouraged everyone to be quiet and stay behind the cage, thinking Steve might not come out unless he saw a clear path to fly into.
After about five minutes -- he took off. He sprinted lowly in the air, then rose abruptly to leave the yard.
Steve it seems will be OK. Another animal saved. Another moment of family bonding.
Once again, during the time Steve spent with my family, nothing else seemed to matter. My kids did not ask to watch TV or play on the computer. They're only concern was Steve. It was a great way to spend a summer day.
And once again, I am reminded of the passage from the Talmud that reads "And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world."
Have you ever saved an animal and how did it impact your life? Please adds your thoughts below.
For another take please read: What Does Albert the Squirrel Have to do with 9/11?