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  • It was an unusually hot spring and we arrived home at around 5:30pm. I’d been to work, did a quick food shop and rushed to collect my two boys from the bus. We were negotiating the timetable for the evening ahead; when to eat, when to do homework and such like. Laden with school bags, games bags and shopping bags, we bustled towards the house from the curb when Oscar stopped short at the gate. “Look!” he exclaimed. Benjamin and I peered over his shoulder and followed his gaze to see a fledgling robin on our path. The little bird had the beginnings of orange/red breast feathers and was lying on his side clearly struggling to survive. He was so weak that he could not find the strength to escape us as we stood a foot away. “He looks dead to me”, said my eldest, “anyway, I’ve got homework to do.” He stepped over the bird and headed for the door. “We have to do something, Mum”, pleaded Oscar. “Mmm, Benjamin’s probably right. He may die of shock anyway.” I replied pensively, thinking that a cat or an urban fox would take him for afternoon tea. All the same I agreed to see what we could do for the poor thing. I told Oscar to stand guard and not to touch the bird and went inside to try and think of something that might help.

    I came out with a shoe box, a saucer from a terracotta pot and a paper towel. I found Oscar sheltering the robin with his shadow and was softly talking to him. We found a sheltered place on the grass and set the box on its side, filled the clay saucer with water and placed it in the shoebox to anchor it. Next, I carefully lifted the bird into the box using the paper towel as a barrier to protect it from my scent. Oscar splashed a few droplets of water onto the exhausted bird and onto its beak. I suggested we go inside. The bird had had enough trauma for one day.

    As the light began to fade Oscar and I went to check our patient. I was preparing him for the worst and I was willing that a gruesome scene was not about to be witnessed by my six year old son. We found the little robin in his infirmary. Not dead. Perched on the edge of his private bath chirping at us and puffed up with glee! As we approached he fell silent, looking back at our surprised faces and cocking his head to one side, as birds do. “Wow, Mum! He thinks he’s the king of the castle!” cried Oscar, laughing. Indeed, I had to agree the little bird looked pleased with himself. We watched him for a while in silence. Oscar spoke again, “Well, we have to name him now that he’s ours”. It didn’t occur to me that it was a funny thought that a mother and son could adopt a child as join parents particularly in the form of a bird. But I guess we treat our other pets like our children... I suggested we call him Elvis, because he was the king of rock and roll, a little like our new ‘son’. He certainly seemed to have the personality to pass for a rock icon! (I did have to explain who Elvis Presley was and correct Oscar when he thought Michael Jackson was the king. Please!) We decided that he must be hungry now and it was now our duty to feed him as any responsible parent would. Oscar searched for worms, but it was too dry to find any and I wracked my brain to come up with something suitable from my kitchen. In the end we found a few bits of minced steak that Oscar softened in water and made tiny balls out of. I hoped it might taste like a worm. Oscar fed the bird from the tip of his damp finger, and yes, that gutsy bird ate it! When it was too dark to see anymore we said goodnight to Elvis and retired.

    The next morning as we left the house in our usual rush to start our day, Elvis was on the pillar by our gate chirping at us again. This time there was a female robin in the hedge nearby responding to his call. We all said goodbye to him and left to commence another day knowing that he had found his birth mother.

    The shoe box was abandoned and we thought we saw Elvis in our garden from time to time. We always greeted a robin with this name anyway. It’s been five years since that spring and each year we have a robin in our garden. We like to think it’s Elvis, although now perhaps it’s ‘Elvis Junior’.
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