Monday night I went outside to water a few plants. In the front yard under our redwood tree I noticed a small, gray, fuzzy blob. A baby Mourning Dove had fallen from its nest some twenty feet above. We had been watching the past few weeks as the devoted parents incubated the eggs and then as tiny beaks appeared in the nest. Monday night I looked up and saw the remains of a disintegrated nest. My partner Herb and I took the little squab inside and put him/her in some soft towels under which we had a heating blanket set on low. We decided to call our little visitor Francis. While I was tempted to become a foster parent and raise Francis myself, I realized that a wildlife rehabilitation center offered our friend a much better chance of survival. So the next morning, Francis and I went to Wildcare, a fantastic nonprofit that rehabilitates over 3,000 injured wild animals each year.
After one last look, I closed the shoe box and entrusted Francis to the compassionate woman at the desk. She took Francis into the animal hospital for a brief examination and then to a cozy incubator. She told me Francis would join a nest with other rescued baby doves, who are cared for by adult doves recuperating from various injuries. The adult doves will show Francis what it means to be a dove and how to survive in the wild. Meanwhile, parenting Francis and the other babies will speed the healing of the adults.
Tears came to my eyes as I considered this beautiful arrangement in which babies and wounded adults nurture each other. As I left, I was given a number with which I can track Francis' progress. Wildcare will also notify me when Francis is released back into the wild so that I can attend.
In caring for this avian infant, I felt so much tenderness, purpose and connection to Life that it became impossible to tell who was really helping whom. Francis reminded me that every being, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, in some way affects every other being on the planet. Now I know just how much a bird in the hand is worth.