Her Name Was Bea.

chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)June 10, 2008

That was short for Beautiful. She was Beautiful to see and Beautiful of strength and spirit. Her life on Earth was short as well but she accomplished so much.

Mike doesn't normally pick up riders when he is on his motorcycle but there she was standing on the side of the road. He pulled over and asked Bea what she was doing alone on a country road. She didn't answer. This sweet young chick was waiting by the roadside for Pretty Boy to give her a ride and there he was .....He picked up the little hitchhiker and unbuttoned his shirt a little so he could tuck her inside for the ride home to Camp Nappy.

OMG! Mike came home with this little bird with horribly swollen eyelids and swollen skin around her mouth! The skin was soooo red and inflamed she looked almost like a mini Turkey Vulture!

What had happened to her? Did she have a disease? Was she sunburned? Did the dust and crud from the road damage her skin? Did she have chemicals sprayed on her and her tender skin was reacting? Why was she sooooo swollen?

We gave her antibiotics, something for pain, antibiotic ointment on her eyelids as well as some IV fluids and treatment for shock. She got some warm birdy cereal too. And we waited. She was very still but seemed more comfortable as we filled her crop with warm food throughout the night.

By morning she had improved enough that her eyes opened and my heart sank! Her eyes were not normal. Bea was blind! She had what appeared to be congenital cataracts. She was essentially born blind, or nearly so. How could a bird survive without sight? She could never fly safely! She would be doomed to a life of prison through no fault of her own. We have *never* encountered such a guest and the huge moral dilemma her condition posed!

We sent out a call to those closest to Camp Nappy for their most respected advice for Bea and our friends came through with their best thoughts. As she had congenital cataracts it was believed she may have other abnormalities and her time on Earth would be limited. She would have an eye exam by the ophthalmologist in a week. Until then, this little soul knows nothing other than darkness. Let us find out what Bea can do in spite her darkness.

She *LOVED* Led Zeppelin! Every time she hears one of their songs she starts to sway slowly side to side and her head rolls gently with the rhythm ... jamming with the band and singing ... kinda reminiscent of a Stevie Wonder concert! That certainly counts for something! Bea did not react like that to any other artist.

We kept checking if she gives any hint of sight and initially she perceived light and ~perhaps~ the slightest of movement but that is only on the left side on her first full day here. Little Bea was out the following morning before her breakfast and she was using her beak like a walking stick by tapping in front and to the sides as she took a tentative stroll on the towel. We then thought she might be far sighted on the right? Waaaaay up close she doesn't respond but farther away she seemed to be able to track motion on both sides.

We didn't want to rush anything but knew the longer we cared for her the more difficult it will be to decide to decide. Mike thought she'd be OK and adjust to her form of normality and when God wanted her she would leave.

Ah well. This may be The Year of The Eye Problems or the impossible to rescue! I'd rather have Swifts!

Initially we thought Bea was a young Common Grackle but we soon found out there was nothing "common" about her. She was so delicate yet showed amazing strength and courage as she tried to overcome her vision loss. Bea had made amazing strides, literally, on day three here. We believed her eyesight was improving.

She no longer tapped her way around but took steady and purposeful steps. She walked to the edge of the counter and I quickly put my hand out in front of her to stop her from falling and she backed off! She then turned around ... took two steps and hopped on my hand!!!!! :-) She definitely seeks the light and had been very mobile Monday. Bea has been very busy doing her wing stretches and flapping. The skin on her face was healing and had some scabs on it. What had caused her injuries?

Of course she was also preening her feathers too. A girl needs to look her best at all times, dontchaknow? Her beak was slender and more delicate than that of a Grackle. She had started to show signs of patches on her wings. The skin of her feet was sooooo soft! Her voice was not entirely Grackle-ish. Bea now had more tail feathers growing and this confirmed that she was a young Red-winged Blackbird.

She was not getting that she needs to start to eat on her own or drink water either. If we placed a hunk of blueberry, grape or cherry in her mouth she would swallow it but she was not even trying in the least to pick anything up on her own. Cherries and grapes were her favourites! :-) Bea was tapping at the towel and pulling on it so there's at least there was a start.

Little Bea was giving us mixed signals on Monday. She was definitely getting around with more confidence but she didn't sing when ~her band~ was on the radio. Mike said he noticed she stumbled a few times in the late afternoon and she took up an odd posture of holding her wings out and resting like that. ??? Strange! She was more difficult to feed and she resisted having the tube stuck into her crop.

Maybe she knew she needed to leave and didn't want us to delay her departure? Mike thinks maybe she had some brain damage from heat stroke. It was very hot when he found her and even hotter for her resting on the pavement. :*( In the wee hours of Tuesday morning I heard her fluttering.

Bea had a seizure and was laying on her side. She struggled for breath for less than a minute and I held her, gave her a kiss on top of her head and told her it was OK to leave her darkness. Don't be afraid little one. Go toward the Light and see God. Her mission here on Earth was done and she was gone.

Take what ever adversities are given to you and show the world you can overcome them. If you cannot over come the adversities then you try the very best you can to do well. Always know there may be someone who is watching out for your safety and someone who loves you in spite of it all and will help you through it all.

A life lesson for all species from someone small and young. The teacher? A tiny bird named Bea.


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koijoyii(NE Ohio)

Wow! From what I can see (through my tears) the last pic is a huge improvement from the first. You should be proud Mother & Father Nurture of the steps you took to try to save Bea. Unfortunately God always has the last word with his creatures. There is a special place in Heaven you and Mike. Keep up the good work. I need to go find a box of tissues now..............


    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 8:14AM
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Chicka, Not only do you know how to take care of needy animals and birds. Your sagas are so interesting and told so well. Forget the tissues, I just grabbed a whole roll of paper towel. Thanks for telling us her story. She was blessed to have you in her life, even if for such a short time. And Mike gets my vote also. Glenda

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 10:10AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Oh Bless you C3D,
When I became a nurse it was because I liked to comfort people. You are that way with animals. I feel that all our spirits are the same.......just in different kinds of bodies.
When I was younger and was reading some of Hermann Hesse's stuff, there was one part of a story that had an image that really connected with my feelings.
There was this person that accompanied people across the dark river at night. (the river represented death). I wanted to be that person. I wanted to help people cross from life to death, so they wouldn't be alone or scared on that journey.
That might sound morbid, but the thought seemed very comforting to me.
You are the person in that boat too. I'm so grateful to you for being there for these little spirits as they cross that river.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 12:22PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Thank you for believing in her. And thank you for sharing her story with us and for sharing your faith and compassion.

Rest in peace little Bea.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 9:17PM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)


I am the boat person this year, aren't I?

I don't want to be the boat person!!! But ... Who am I to question God? I am no one! Just a veterinarian who is covered with dog and cat hair ... some feathers and the occasional flea. I would much rather to post happy endings but so far, that ain't a happenin'!

Little Bea did improve tremendously in the few short days we were honoured to have her as a guest. The opacity / white that is in the eye of her second photo is not a light reflection. It is her cataract that was also in the other eye. The second photo was taken on Monday morning. Her last photo. I just noticed her wing is drooping. She was already telling us she needed to leave.

God knows what is best for Bea. We were honoured that He allowed us to meet her and we been encouraged by her strength and dignity.

Rest in peace? With her Heaven filled with raspberries, cherries, blueberries and the sound of Led Zeppelin? I don't think so! Rock on little Bea! Rock on! :-)

We miss you more than you will know. Take care until we meet again .......

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 9:57PM
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semper_fi(Z7 GA)

"Mike thinks maybe she had some brain damage from heat stroke."

With all due respect, I would have to disagree with the esteemed MD. Anyone who likes Zeppelin is of sound mind. :-)

Stairway to heaven must have been her favorite, no?!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 11:48PM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)

Stairway to heaven must have been her favorite :-)

Thanks Semper for ~everything!~

Camp Nappy

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 7:09AM
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maryo_nh(z5 SouthernNH)

Chicka, I love you.

") Mary

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 8:28AM
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What Mary said!

*sob, snort, wheeze, gasp*


    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 9:10AM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)

I love you guys too! Thanks Brandy, Mary, Jean, Bill .... :-)

I was driving to work this morning and what comes on the radio? Stairway to Heaven. OK ... C3D brain cell goes to thoughts of Bea swaying and singing along in birdy Heaven. Thank God. The song ended... I can compose myself. That is until the next song, which I WAS NOT expecting by Lennon and McCartney ...

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night
Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise :*(

Bea had died at 2:13 AM. Good thing I have a long ride to get to work! I better toughen up and get cold and clinical, no? No!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 1:38PM
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sheepco(MN z4)

The day you get cold and clinical is the day most of us, and your clients and patients I would guess, throw ourselves in front of the nearest bus.

But please know that however hard it is for you both, we (sorry, may I speak for you all?), and all the wee creatures...feel your sadness when you lose one and your joy when just one is set free. Keep doing your bit to make the world better...that's all you can do.

Thanks, S

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 10:53PM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)

Oh Please! Don't throw yourself under a bus, Sarah! When I get cold and clinical I'll be cold and stiff. :-)

Maybe some rehabbers can get that way (or need to) because they see hundreds of creatures and they need to cull out those who will take up their time and space in the facility? Poor Mr. Cardinal. Poor Barry! They might not be around if that would be the case!!!

This is not a clinical setting here. This is our home. Whoever comes here for aid gets all we can offer to the best of our ability. Emotionally it probably isn't the best because we quickly fall in love with the latest addition and are heartbroken if things turn out less than the best. Always a big supply of tissues here. When I say I have bloodshot eyes ... I *really* do.

But the joy that comes from helping someone far outweighs the sad times! Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal showed off their 4 fledglings last Sunday. We are 113% sure it is OUR Mr. C.! OMG! We have grand-chicks. :-)

How can I care if I don't care? You wouldn't be able to care for animals either, Sarah, if you didn't care. That's all we can do is to try some days, isn't it? The rest is out of our hands.

Thanks, S.

Until the next guest ... C3D

(Gotta have at least ONE happy ending this year! We'll work on it!!!)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 7:21AM
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OMG!!! The radio must be possessed with the precious spirit of beautiful Bea! That is SO amazing! And...*sniffle*....you know.

On occasion, I've wished that I didn't love animals so much, because it's so heart-breaking sometimes! I can't even watch things like ER Vets or that Animal Cops show...WAY too much for me! And that commercial with Sarah McLachlan singing "Angel". Forget it!

I'm honored to know those who care and help, though! Thank you, Chicka and Sarah!! You can speak for me any time. :)


    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 11:22AM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

OH my, that song is so perfect as a memorial to sweet Bea - and one of my favorite songs too!

I had a friend who died in his 20's and at the funeral they played "I'm just a country boy". At first I had a hard time listening to that song but now when I hear it, I remember him and I'm glad that I have that reminder of him. So whenever I hear "Blackbirds" I will think of Bea and her courage.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 9:39PM
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