Rewind to May 1997. Just home from work and ready to take on the weekend, my life was suddenly and forever changed. My sister Sarah sat on the back porch gazing lovingly into a box labeled as fax machine paper — obviously not at fax paper. Sarah had a reputation for bringing home orphaned or needy pets. When I peeked inside I saw a tiny bright yellow beak peeking out from a bundled blue towel. Its eyes weren’t even opened yet. To make a very long and beautiful story short, I took over the care of that helpless naked baby bird with the intention of releasing her once she was able to fly and eat on her own. However, she had a deformity on one of her feet which caused her rear toe to point forward. Her life span out in the wild would potentially be shortened because of this condition. As her feathers gradually appeared we determined that “it” was a “lowly” little house sparrow. A female that I ended up naming Ava.
I was informed that there are no protection ordinances for house sparrows because they are not native to the United States. Legally I could keep her as a pet. She went everywhere with me, especially in her early years when I had to feed her with a syringe every 20 minutes for 16 hours a day. (Fortunately birds sleep at night!) Working for a small family owned business I was able to bring Ava to work with me every day. I know people thought I was crazy and wondered why the heck I was even bothering. In the beginning I too wondered if my efforts were futile. She was such a fragile little thing! But I persevered and so did she. As she grew older she continued to come to work with me every day. She went on vacations with me as far as 10 hours away by car. The only time she spent in her cage was when she was traveling, at work with me or if I had to step out for awhile. Otherwise she had free reign of my bedroom when I still lived at home, and then free reign of my apartment when I moved out. At night she slept in a little blue fleece tent on a hook next to my bed.
When she was tired, she knew to fly in there and she expected me to be quiet after she had done so. It was always a source of amusement to who ever I was on the phone with when I had to apologize on behalf of my sparrow “yelling” at me in the background. I could go on and on and on about all of Ava’s endearing little quirks, her “nests” that she’d build, her sun “comas”, her bird baths, her “clicking” at us, her bird songs. This bird had so much personality! For nine incredible years Ava lived with me and then “us” after William and I got married in 2001. She was our first “baby” together and he loved her just as much as I did.
As Gavin and Greta were born into our family they thought it was completely normal to have a sparrow flying around their house sharing breakfast with them. She was just another family member. She passed away in early January of 2007 leaving behind a huge impression on our hearts and maybe an invitation for God to recognize that we’d be the perfect family for another special little “bird”.
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. (Luke 12:6 NIV)