Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Family Affair: Love and Loss

It’s started:  the annual *pilgrimage that pierces my heart and turns my mood to melancholy.  The calendar may say it’s only August but Mother Nature, in her divine wisdom, has sent out the signals.  The time has come for the aging Goldfinches to die.  Perhaps it is God’s way of sparing their tiny fragile failing bodies from the harshness of winter but right now that thought is only cold comfort.  The Goldies aren’t just friends, they are family-fellow year-round residents of Bon Bon Pond. 

While most wild animals go off alone when their time comes, the goldies are different and, for my way of thinking, much like humans.  They choose to end their lives at home, surrounded, and, I sincerely hope, comforted, by everything they loved.

This week I’ve had three—two females and my first male—who have come to the fountain.  Puffed up and obviously ill they sit and stare at the cascading water for long periods of time. (Dreaming of high flights and days gone bye?)

On Monday, one of the females had hopped into the driveway.  I was concerned she might get in the way of my friend’s truck and trailer so I bent down and carefully scooped her into my hand.  She did not stir or otherwise seem to mind.  I moved her to the safety of the front yard and sat down in the grass with her.  She stayed close to me for quite a while then finally gathered her strength to fly to the fountain.

I am deeply saddened, yet on another level, I feel privileged and honored to share this rite of passage.  I’ve never been very good at accepting loss but that’s where faith comes in.  The trust and belief that . . .

*Please check on the label entitled “Little One” at the bottom of this entry to read the story of the inspiration for this blog.


  1. Oh, my. I find my eyes filled with tears reading this post and yes, the story of Little One. We have many goldfinch families in our yard and happily watch them (for years) feed from the thistle feeder and drink from the birdbaths, completely unaware of this phenomenon. I've never come across an ill one or even, a dead one. Could simply be due to the amount of other wildlife we have here who wouldn't pass up a meal.

    You are truly blessed to witness this circle of life. I know you provide them with comfort and they must view you as a friend. I have comforted many creatures (the furry kinds...chipmunks, mice, rabbits, etc) as they have taken their last breaths. Rare is it a bird. I think creatures have such hard lives which is why I treat them always with compassion and kindness and try to provide them with a safe place to eat, drink, bathe and yes, make their babies.

    I will be keeping an eye on my little goldfinches in the days and weeks to come.

  2. Thanks for the lovely and insightful comments, Tracy, and thanks for your kindness to God's creatures. The world needs more wonderful people like you!


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