About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

God's Eye Is on the Sparrow -- and Also the Killdeer

My husband Mike has a penchant for bringing home orphaned or abandoned animals. When he and my son Wyatt came in with a closed cardboard box, and Wyatt asked, "Guess what's inside?," I couldn't.

Inside the box was a baby killdeer. Mike explained he and Wyatt saw the chick standing alone on the road after a hawk had swooped through. The parents weren't around so Wyatt picked it up. "Let's call him Larry," Wyatt suggested.

"Why Larry?," I asked.

"Larry Bird," my basketball enthusiast son explained.

Killdeer are plentiful here in southeast Minnesota. Mike was familiar with the breed. They wouldn't eat grain, but instead needed live insects or worms. Mike turned on the garden hose and ran water into the parched soil. No worms appeared. And the bird refused to eat the insects Mike caught for him. 

"You probably should have left him on the road," I said.

"I know. But I'm an old softie," Mike admitted. 

He persuaded Larry to swallow a few mouthfuls of water. Then Mike prepared a hot water bottle for Larry's box. The bird spent the night in my studio, away from curious cats.

The next day we contacted Oxbow Park in Olmsted County, a wildlife manager at Rice Lake State Park, and a person with the Rochester DNR. They all suggested the same thing: try to get a killdeer family to adopt the chick. 

Mike and I got into his truck and slowly drove around. After awhile we found a spot where a couple of killdeer circled. Mike took Larry and placed him on the ground, as killdeer spend most of their time there. We drove down the road a ways so we could watch if the adult killdeer accepted him. They didn't.

"I don't know if Larry could keep up if someone did adopt him," Mike said.

We went back to the cornfield to retrieve Larry.
We went back to the cornfield to retrieve Larry. I held the bird in my cupped hands to warm him. Protruding bones felt like bumps all over his body. He was as fragile as an empty walnut shell. 

“I don’t think he’s going to make it,” I said, as Mike continued driving.

We passed a barn, a cornfield, and a farmhouse with a fundamentalist warning posted above the mailbox. I read the sign.

“Jesus is coming. Are you ready?,” I asked Larry.

“His eye is on the sparrow. But not on the killdeer,” Mike remarked.

We circled the block. Usually, killdeer mates dart back and forth anywhere you care to look. Today, none could be found.

Mike and I thought about the options for Larry. A swift bullet through the heart? A quick twist of the neck? We didn't have the heart for any of them. "We'll probably end up putting him through college," I said.

Back at home, we mixed up a batch of sugar water. Mike held Larry’s beak to the cup  and he drank several mouthfuls. Larry’s lethargy gave way to a sugar high. Later in the day, Mike figured out how to feed him worms. He pureed them.

“In my blender?,” I asked warily.

“No, I used a small canning jar. The blender blades fit in the bottom of the jar.” I didn’t ask any more questions after that.
Despite my initial trepidation, I looked forward to sharing stories about Larry as he grew and feathered out. Releasing him in a few weeks when he could survive on his own. Singing “Born Free” as he circled the skies and came back to visit us.

The next morning was 10 degrees cooler than the previous morning. Mike opened the box. “Larry’s dead,” he said. We were both silent. 

“At least I tried. I didn’t just leave him there.  He got an extra day,” Mike said.

He got an extra day, all right. An extra day of safety and comfort, because an old softie stopped on the road and couldn’t pass by. And for Mike and me, our biggest worry for a few hours wasn't money -- but keeping a chick alive.

Maybe God’s eye was on the killdeer, after all. 


  1. Oh... what a heartwarming story. You guys are the best! I'm so glad you didn't leave him and know in your hearts that you gave Larry more than he would've found alone on the roadside. People who go the extra mile for helpless creatures deserve a special place in heaven. Thank you!

  2. Thank YOU Suerae, that's just what I needed to hear. There are many abandoned creatures out there that we don't see, Larry just happened to be visible. Your comment made me think of the story of the man on a beach littered with starfish. One by one he throws them into the ocean. Another man asks him why bother, he's not making a difference. He throws another and answers: "I did for that one." Thanks for reading! Susan


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