Once upon a time I had a pair of Green Singer Finches --
marvelous little singers from Africa, grey and yellow and very lively. The female sports a
little necklace about her throat. On a sunny afternoon, many years ago, I thought I would
clean their cage outside, on one open back porch. Birds rarely come to the bottom when
cleaning. They usually stay perched and wait for the commotion to end. So I put the cage
on the railing, somewhat precariously. A little voice inside my head says, "You
shouldn't do that. If it falls, gone are the birds!" Well, that, of course, is the
story. The round cage falls, the male flies the coop, and the female hangs on to the top
perch for dear life.
So here is this little dude flying off, upward straight for one of
the lower branches of our 250 year-old black walnut trees. We lived in Illinois in a
turn-of-the-century big Victorian house, surrounded by these giants planted so long ago.
The little dear seems to be stunned, transfixed by this turn of events. "Where is my
safe little world?" The bird seems to be glued to its perch, about 20 or so feet in
What to do? Its mate is calling, but nothing can distract it. Time passes, tries fail,
the hose, calling, etc....
Clouds are rolling in. It starts to rain, gently at first, then hard. My reasoning is
if the bird, which is still hanging on, is soaked, it can be nudged off. Soaked, it will
not be able to fly.
In the garage we find a long piece of molding, slender, flimsy, flexible, but long
enough to reach the bird. A very funny sight is my Sweet William, my husband, swinging the
molding back and forth, arcing widely; it reaches the bird, which won't let go. The rain
poured down his face as he looks up. Then the molding pushes the finch off the branch. As
predicted, it falls to the ground like a lead balloon, soaked to the bone. I am on it in a
flash. He was a very wet little thing. How a very lucky set of circumstances saved it from
the big, mean world.
It is rolled in a very warm towel, put back in its cage with tonics for quick and much
needed energy. A light shone above it to keep it toasty. In 15 minutes the bird is dry,
chirping about its incredible adventure to its mate and none the worse for its
I always thought that the story of this wild and safe recovery of this beautiful and
hardy little singer was surely amazing. This little dude lived to a ripe old age of at
least 18 years and, as most bird acquired, no way of knowing its age when acquired by me.