Chirp!
I
Chirp fell into my life on
June 28, 2013. He's a
Mourning Dove, one of
the most common birds in
North America.
Chirp's personal story,
however, is anything but
common!
Why yes, he really IS the most interesting bird in the world.
But Chirp DID survive! I toted him to and from church so he could get his regular feedings, and when I was out of
town my husband took him to the office with him. Chirp's new nest was a Tupperware bowl with soft cloths in it and
he slept under a desk lamp to keep him toasty and warm. We taught him how to eat and to let us know what he needed
He taught us that tiny things DO matter. Even a scrawny little bird with only one sound in his vocabulary can
somehow communicate great wisdom.

As he grew, Chirp took over a larger part of our hearts--and our household. I had hoped to release him back into the
wild when he was big enough and strong enough, but he became so completely bonded with my family that he didn't
realize he was a bird. When I set his cage outside to introduce him to the world, he was terrified! He learned to fly in
my kitchen and preferred to free range indoors rather than out. So, I got used to a demanding dove strolling on the
carpet or swooping down from his perch on my cabinets.

Most days he would sit on top of my head, plucking gray hairs for me as I worked at my desk. Typing fascinated him
and some days we battled for control of my keyboard. His daily bath was in a dish by the sink, I formulated his
birdseed mix especially to his tastes, and he occasionally deigned to visit with the neurotic parakeet that also shared
our home. I'd frequently find him napping on the couch with the dogs, and he made big sport of teasing the barn cats
who'd come up and peer at him through the windows.
On that stormy summer eve, an evil turkey vulture was raiding Chirp's
nest high in a hickory tree. I just  happened to be nearby at the time and
the nest came tumbling down right at my feet. Chirp was a tiny little
thing, still the size and shape of an egg. He was the lone survivor of the
attack, sadly.

I tried in vain to locate his biological parents. I checked with the wildlife
services people and they advised me to tuck Chirp back in what was left
of his nest and replace up in the tree as high as I could get it. I was
assured the parents would return. They did not, despite my efforts to
rebuild the nest and hang from ladders and branches and risk my neck.

When the sun set and the weather grew worse, I knew I had to take the
fading baby bird into my home. It was doubtful he would survive, but I
couldn't leave him alone in the rain for his final hours on earth.
In early Spring of 2015, as Chirp approached his second birthday, I
started to notice a change in his behavior. He was becoming fully
mature and wanted to prove his prowess to everyone. He was more
aggressive, more demanding, and claimed his various territories with a
vengeance.

I was his favorite person and he didn't much like anyone coming near
me--especially my teenage son whom he recognized as his chief rival.
The world outside the front window became more and more
interesting to Chirp and instead of flying into the kitchen to hide when
the front door would open, he now wanted to peer out. He was finally
hearing the call of the wild.

I knew it wouldn't be long before I'd have to say good-bye.
Everyone who knows Chirp's story falls completely in love. There's just something about this little guy that touches
the heart. As long as he stays close by, I'll post pics and updates about him regularly on my social media. Through
this journey Chirp has become quite the celebrity. It hasn't changed him one bit, although he does love the attention.

My Regency novel, MISS FARROW'S FEATHERS, is dedicated to Chirp. (He hasn't read it yet.)
On May 9, 2015, Chirp decided he was ready for the world. That morning he was particularly ruthless in his dive-
bombing raids, stalking my son and attacking him. He was restless and uninterested in his usual routine. He watched
the front door with an eagle eye, which isn't always easy for a dove. We knew he needed to be free.

The door opened. Without hesitation or doubt, he swooped outside. The day was warm and sunny and absolutely
gorgeous. I stayed outside all afternoon, keeping and eye on him and making myself available should he need to land
on my head and find safety or reassurance. He didn't need either. He was FREE and he was loving it!
At first he was tentative, but before long he was soaring over the treetops and
cooing loudly. The other doves weren't quite sure about him, and he mostly
avoided them. But he was determined to be free. I fretted and worried, but he did
just fine.

As the days went by, he became stronger and bolder and I could detect a change in
his vocal abilities. He learned some new sounds. He made some new friends. He
ventured father away from our house.

Chirp is a free bird now. It's getting harder for me to tell him apart from the other
doves because he's learning to be more like them. He's starting to fit in. My house is
emptier and quieter, but I'm so happy for my little squab. He's become what he was
always meant to be. I couldn't be more proud of him, and of my whole family for
being able to prepare him for this life, then letting him live it.
Happy Birthday, Chirp!  June 28