Here's a picture of the little bird the kids found on the ground, chirping and chirping and chirping away. It hopped around and flapped its wings all afternoon, but never flew. The neighbor girl, who is bossy and a little older than the others informed us that it had fallen out of its nest and had a broken wing and we just had to rescue it. For the record, it was not hurt. Its mother was feeding it and visiting it and flying around and screaming at the kids when they got too close. I talked to the kids about how wild animals need to be wild, and even though we want to help them, it is less traumatic for the bird to just be on its own than to have people (grubby, excited 8 year olds in particular) handling it and holding it and putting it in a box and bringing it inside. That even if it got killed by one of the neighbors awful sandbox-pooping garden roving bird killing cats that at least would be quick and more natural than slowly starving to death in a cardboard box in a house because we wouldn't be able to feed it the right food, etc.. Somehow this was not comforting to the crowd. The bossy girl at the end of the dead end demanded to ask her mother, who immediately and properly came over with a box, dish washing gloves, and a shovel. Luckily I'd gotten a call from a knowledgeable friend who explained that robins take their babies out of their nests a couple of days before they can fly, to protect them from crows, and hide them in the weeds (not a comment on my flower beds, I'm sure) and feed them and protect them from predators until they can fly on their own. Whew!
WAIT! I know this isn't a robin- I think its a house finch? But I'm almost certain other birds must do this as well, right?
So they spent the rest of the afternoon building the baby bird a fort, so it could be safe from cats. I can't imagine why birdie didn't make itself at home there. And they spent hours chasing cats and yelling at them, which, bird or no bird, seems like a wholesome neighborhood activity to me.
And the bird? It was gone in the morning- I'm pretty sure it learned to fly in the night, and that it was NOT ambushed by said cats. Yep, I'm pretty sure.