Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Adventures of Foster the Finch

On Sunday morning, my brother was about to shovel some organic food waste into our compost pile, when he saw a small bird resting by the side of the pile. Luckily it moved a bit or he might have given it quite a nasty ride in a shovel!

Steve fed it some grapes from our vines, and the bird seemed to gobble them up. And he didn’t really seem afraid of Steve, or myself, or Bruce, or Cousin Kim when she came over for our regular sewing day.

We moved him to a box and into the shade of the patio. He hopped out of the box pretty quickly, though. Steve fed him some water from a bottle cap, which the bird gustily dove his beak into repeatedly. We also filled a saucer with water and he trudged through that, too.

I went around to the neighbors and asked if anyone knew who might own a lost bird. No one claimed him. Bruce and Kim looked him up online and found out that he was a Zebra Finch - and definitely a male. Also, the banded leg signified that he was imported, in this case from Australia. Australia and Indonesia are apparently homes to zebra finches in the wild.

Our neighborhood also belongs to an online app called Next Door, and we posted a picture and information about the bird, whom Steve had now named Foster. Why Foster? He named it after the Australian beer, whose tag line is “Foster - it’s Australian for beer!”.  In his best Australian accent (and it’s a good one), Steve decided that “Foster” was now Australian for Finch!

While Steve and Foster bonded (and napped) on the patio, Bruce went to three stores (Petco, Wal-Mart and Petsmart) before he found a reasonably priced cage and some finch food.

In the online neighborhood app, we listed the finch in Lost and Found and extolled his many virtues. We said that we were owned by two cats and therefore would not be able to keep him, but that if anybody wanted to care for him, we would throw in the cage and food with Foster.

An hour later, four siblings came to the door, ranging in age from about 6-16. They live down the street and are known to us. In fact Jessica, the oldest, used to model headbands for my Etsy store a few years ago. They are a great family and have been unable to have feline or canine pets because of their parents’ allergies. Anyway, they wanted to adopt Foster!  Their mom and I chatted to verify the arrangement. She even offered to pay for the cage and food, but we declined their offer.

So naturally, we had to get a group photo!!  Smiles all around!!

Later that evening, another neighbor offered to adopt Foster, but we had to tell her that he had already been adopted....

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Tuesday evening update:  The kids came to our door to return the empty and cleaned cage and food. They were so sad. Foster had died. He had trouble keeping his eyes open (Steve had noticed how much Foster seemed to sleep) and apparently was sick. They looked up what they could online, and Jessica even stayed up with him most of the night. He died this morning. My heart breaks for these sweet kids who were so thrilled to have a pet to care for.

Looking back, I think someone probably had this bird and let it go, knowing it was sick. Why would someone do that? A tame house bird can’t fend for itself in the wild even the “wild" of a suburban neighborhood. Did they think that the bird's death would be quicker or more natural? If you are going to catch and cage a bird in the first place, and that is all it knows, shouldn’t you see the creature through thick and thin?

So, unknowingly, we came to its “rescue" and got some big-hearted kids involved. And in the process, several hearts were stolen, then broken. I have such conflicting emotions here over this little bird; anger at some owner I don’t even know, embarrassment over making such a big deal about it in the neighborhood, sorrow for breaking the kids’ hearts. And yet we all feel we did the right thing...... or did we? What would you have done?

Cathy maroon


  1. It may have gotten sick while loose...it seemed rather hungry and thirsty.

    As for the children...you may have opened up a pathway to a new pet because once parents say yes to a zebra finch, haven't you just agreed to a cat or a dog.

    No need for second thoughts. Just be glad you have such nice, responsive neighbors.

  2. Oh geez, you did more than most. I think poor bird. I think YAY you and your family for your efforts to find his home, then give him one. I think WONDERFUL you and the parents that let the kids take the bird. The entire event was such a wonderful lesson for the kids and a show of compassion for animals. I share your gamut of emotions.
    xx, Carol

  3. Oh, so sad. You guys were great to do what you did. He had some loving people taking care of him as best they could. What sweet kids - i bet they learned a little something from the experience, and maybe they will get another pet one of these days!

  4. Oh that is so sad...;((( but you did your best for sure...I am sure foster is smiling down from Pet heaven right now on you...hugs, Julierose

  5. So sorry about the outcome, but you absolutely did the right thing! Hugs...

  6. Oh you definitely did the right thing. In Foster's little world you made him comfortable in his last moments and gave him a family to love which is good to have even if it is just a short while. And perhaps, since the kids gave him a home, and loved him, maybe that opens up the opportunity for them to get another Foster type pet.
    You all have good hearts!

  7. You are a kind soul! I would have done the exact same thing. Working with the Humane Society, I see so many poor strays or crazy reasons people turn their pets in. At least Foster had a comfy home and love at the end.

  8. I think kids are better for having something to love, even if it is only for a day. It fosters empathy and caring for something outside themselves and that's always a good thing.
    I had many small animal pets and worked at Lincoln Park zoo in chicago 4 summers running and ten years of winter Polo ponies downtown and had many animals die on us and even had to put a few down. I wouldn't ever trade those experiences for anything.

  9. How sad. You did the right thing though - I know I would have done the same. At least you know that the wee bird had a good end to his life and wasn't out in the wild starving - or worse, being killed by a cat.


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