Robbie and a Nun

Robbie And A Nun

by Sr. Miriam Hogan, O.C.D.

This is not one of those little stories that begin, "a long time ago in a far off place." No it begins; Robbie fell out of his tree. He landed on the pavement in front of the garage. The garage is where the cats live, and the cars keep going in or out. It was no place for a baby robin and things looked hopeless.

Then I came along. Seeing the little fellow splat on the pavement, I picked him up. He was mostly skin and hair, without any real feathers. Shivering and shaking and ugly, yet, I thought there is no way I am going to let those lazy overfed cats get him. So, cuddling him in my hands I picked up a shoebox and a rag and made a nest for him. He seemed to calm down and let me cover him up with the rag until all you could see was a tiny mouth and eyes. The next problem was what to feed a baby robin. His parents would have given him worms. I tried dog food with an eyedropper. Robbie liked it. Every two hours he liked it! Best of all however, he liked special cat food. There is one brand that is shaped like tiny fish. This is Robbies favorite.

For a while, he was safe in my room in the shoebox. In about a week tiny feathers began to grow and you could see a reddish-orange color coming to the front of his breast. Wings grew gray black feathers and a tail grew feathers with two tiny with spots on both sides of the tail. He also began to chirp. I would call to him, Robbie Robbie…chirp, chirp, chirp. He would spread his wings a little and jump up and down repeating chirp, chirp, chirp. He would also sit on one of my fingers and eat his food. But alas, he would also hop out of his box.

So, I put newspapers in the bottom of my clothes hamper and gave him more room to hop. Such a curious little bird! I had to keep giving him new things to play with. One day it was grass. Another day it was a mirror. Then string, then dirt, complete with earth worms on the bottom of the hamper. He didn't even take a minute for him to figure out how to eat earthworms. Best of all he really knew how to hop, and that's what he did most of the time. Back and forth.back and forth…back and forth…. The clothes hamper was not quite big enough.

I started taking Robbie to the window to look at other Robins through the screen. He seemed curious but not overly concerned. In fact he seemed comfortable in my room. Well it was getting hard to live with a Robin even though we still greeted each other with a chirp, chirp. Robbie had some curious habits like waking up and chirping at the first ray of sunlight. That's ok for birds, but humans like me, sometimes like to sleep in the early morning. I could get an extra ten minutes snooze, by picking up Robbie and putting him under the covers where it was dark. But in ten minutes he would have it figured out and start softly chirping and then get loader until he was fed. He was also trying his wings. Flying from one curtain to another and looking at me to catch him.

So one morning with tears in my eyes, I took him out into the garden and set him down on a bench next to the roses. Did he fly away? No. just sat there looking scared and shivering. So, I picked him up and put him on my shoulder and we walked back to the house. Robbie had flunked his wilderness test and somehow deep inside, I was glad.

It wasn't much fun for me to dig worms however, so it was back to the dog food. And not having much time during the day, I was just able to feed the bird and get my work done. Evenings however were quality time. Robbie liked to be with me while I watched TV. Maybe because the room was dark he was happy sitting on my shoulder. Of course he pecked at my glasses and then would fly a short hop to my shoes and try to pull up my shoestring. All in all the evenings were the best. And for a few more weeks Robbie seemed to be happy to be inside. Robbie liked company. This was the problem when I had to go away for a few days. Robbie was lonely. A friend said that she would feed him. Robbie did not like being fed by a stranger. He became so upset that he bit off the end of his tail feathers. Then I knew it was really time for Robbie to be with other birds.

I took him to the garden in the clothes hamper and waited about fifteen minutes. When I opened the lid Robbie flew up to a tree. This time he was indeed free. Some of the sisters that I live with, reported seeing a Robin with a short tail in the garden from time to time that summer.

Then in the middle of winter, one of the Sisters said she saw a robin in the mock apple tree, near the house. Sure enough there is a pair of robins coming to the tree, outside the window where I work far away from the cats. When I called, chirp, chirp, chirp one of them hopped up and down and repeated chirp, chirp, chirp. Maybe, its Robbie and his new girlfriend; Maybe its just a couple of his fine feathered friends. Who knows? I do like to think that good things come back to us.


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