While walking in the rose garden one morning, my eye caught a movement in the canal. At first, I thought it was a large green leaf floating down the canal. The erratic movement from the ‘leaf’ on a wind-still morning made me take a second look.
What I at first thought was a leaf, turned out to be a Cape Canary. It looked like a young Brimstone canary. How he ended up in the canal and how long he had been in there, one could only guess.
I could see clearly that he was exhausted to the point of imminent death. I jumped into the canal to rescue him. Gasping for his breath and very wet, I held the heaving little body in my hand. He was too weak to struggle. He sat limply in my hand gasping, eyes closed and I thought he was not going to make it.
After some time his breathing became more regular. But, the little body was still vibrating and his heart racing. There I stood on the lawn, watching anxiously to see some promising response from the clearly tired little eyes. He just sat with them closed, nestled between the palms of my warm hands.
After what seemed a long while, he opened his eyes and attempted to struggle free. I gently manoeuvred him onto a branch perch in the old oak tree. He was still too wet and exhausted to fly. He simply managed his balance on the branch, resting and recovering from the exhaustion.
The first sign that he was beginning to feel better was when he pooped. Nearly falling off the branch in the process. He steadied himself and cleaned his beak on the branch. He tried to straighten his feathers but they were still too wet. He was becoming a lot more alert and clearly in recovery.
He watched me watching him, and decided to find a secluded spot in the tree where he could feel safer. I watched him hop higher into the tree until he felt safe enough to wait for his feathers to dry.
I continued with tasks and when I returned later he was gone. I was a bit disappointed that he left without at least giving me a thank you tweet. However, I also know that when one helps someone in distress, one does so because it is the right thing and not because there is a reward at the end.
The reward is that one is in a position to help someone else. In this case the world did not lose a songbird and he lived to sing another day. I felt good knowing that. A bird in the hand is definitely better than a bird in the canal.