On the 6th of November a baby Little Swift came into our lives. He had fallen out of a high nest in a garage at work. There was no question we would do our best to look after him until he was ready to fly.
1960 grasshoppers and assorted insects (hand hunted and donated)
1328 forced beak openings
364 poos (one quarter caught, the rest landed on clothes, carpets and beds)
40 car trips back and forth to the office (day care)
37 hot water bottles
34 bug containers
7 trips to the hardware store, pet shop and fishing store
5 cricket matches, 4 food shows and 2 disaster films
Too many to count Internet searches about anything related to “helping baby swifts”
One book (Wild by Cheryl Strayed)
And 8423 kisses (this is an approximate figure, could well be more)
Taylor Birdy was ready to be released.
And that’s what we did on the morning of 4th December at about 630am at Country Club where we were sort of guaranteed a soft landing if things didn’t go well.
We took Taylor Birdy along in a box. We had a small stepladder and Bren was on filming duty.
He sat on my hand for what seemed like a long time surveying the big wide world. He bounced his bum up and down, looked around, fluffed his feathers, did a poo, and finally he took off. He put on a display for us, practising his flying, and then he disappeared.
He flew magnificently.
After a month of intense caring and learning and commitment we were pretty much on our knees from fatigue, but entirely awestruck by the experience.
During our time with Taylor Birdy we put together a play list of his favourite songs. In particular he seemed easier to feed while Here Comes The Sun was playing, or maybe the song calmed the carer, who knows! You can check out the Taylor Birdy play list here.
We also promised ourselves that we’d put together a Taylor Birdy Manifesto of lessons we learned during our time with him, as well as stuff we already knew, but needed reminding … we all get lazy. Read the Taylor Birdy Manifesto here.
Bren started practising the Manifesto pretty swiftly (I didn’t mean to do that) and penned a poem for us.
Nervous, shaking fingers
Try feeding me
A foreign diet of clumsy
The rest is here.
And finally, we put together a visual record of him from a few early snaps, the day before his release, as well as the launch …Bye Bye Birdy. You can watch a 5-minute film here.
There are many people to thank, both near, and far.
In Harare, several people gave us advice, with one of the most compelling pieces going something like this:
Please only release to the heavens once both of these factors are aligned:
1) Wings to fly
2) Rains have come with attendant bugs. Do not let HIM fly off into a clear, blue desert
But most importantly we made contact with some amazing and very patient Swift Carers in the UK who answered our many questions with patience and kindness, which strengthened our confidence and commitment.
In many ways, and how could it be any different, we broke a lot of rules and Taylor Birdy spent a very unconventional month with us. However we did stop short at dipping his hoppers in Margaritas!
The title of Bren’s poem comes from one of Amanda’s dedicated, twice daily insect gathering sorties, where she would pounce on anything that moved. She went out with a small net, a container for what we called “specialies” (flies/moths) and another one for bulk (grasshoppers). Early one morning a curious security guard asked her what she was doing. After she explained, he looked at her and told her: “You have long hearts. God bless you.”