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Today on our morning walk we came across a small broken robin egg. Looking closer we discovered it had a baby bird, not yet fully formed, still inside the half-opened shell. The poor thing had fallen or been snatched by a predator and dropped out of its nest. The little bird was maybe half done, big bulbous eyes and tiny body, little wings and feet neatly folded in the fetal position. Afraid it might get squished or eaten, I found a piece of plastic and a stick and scooped it up and carried it back to our house.

I wondered, at first, if it was still alive. I knew it wasn’t likely, that it probably hadn’t survived the fall let alone the time outside its egg. Who knows how long it had been there before we found it. Could we keep it warm? How does the bird even keep growing inside the egg—could I recreate that environment some how? How would I feed it? All these questions of course pointless as the little bird was, I am certain, no longer living.

So I found a spot under the rhododendron bush out front of the house and dug a little hole and laid the little bird with its half shell egg inside. I told the bird it was ok. He would be alright, and he’d come back to earth soon, perhaps as another bird, or something else. His tiny spirit would live on longer than his body did. I covered him up with the dirt and laid a wet leaf over the mound and the stick I’d used on top of it. I said another little prayer then went back inside.

I’ve thought all day about that little bird. How it wouldn’t get a chance to fly or be an early bird for a worm. Did his mama know he was gone? Was she looking for him? Or was this just the way nature works, unfair as it seemed. Nature is at once beautiful and powerful, and often incomprehensible.

This small little bird didn’t have his chance today, but maybe tomorrow. Or some day, years from now. Maybe he’ll be an eagle, or a white dove.

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