A Baby Bird Who Thinks I’m Her Mother

There she was on the playground, a tiny baby bird who could not yet fly.  The children saw her first.  Above was an enormous tree.  The branches were far out of reach.  If there was a nest way up there, we had no way of returning the bird.

Ryan, get me the blue shovel with the long handle from the sandbox.  I can gently scoop her up and bring her to the other side of the fence.  Don’t worry, I won’t touch her feathers.

The baby bird chirped and chirped, never stopping for a moment.

Why is she chirping?  Maybe she misses her mama.  Where is her mama?

I don’t know.  We have to get this baby off of the playground so her mama can find her.

Children held their breath as I gently put the blue shovel under the bird to scoop her up. Instead of getting onto the shovel, the bird fluttered onto my hand!  Oh, no!  And she would not leave, no matter what I did or said.

She thinks you’re her mama.

Yes, she thought I was her mama.  And Mama Jennie had to rescue this baby.  I took her to the edge of the woods while children clung to the playground fence, watching.  I was finally able to coax baby bird off my hand with the help of a nearby stick.  Whew!

When we went back to the classroom we read the book, Are You My Mother?

It was the perfect book.  We scrapped the lesson plans and talked about birds, babies, and mothers.  Later that day we checked the spot where I released the baby bird.  She was gone!  Thank goodness.

Every wondrous moment in teaching has a lesson to be learned.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Book Review, books, children's books, Early Education, Mother Nature, Nature, picture books, reading aloud, Teaching young children, wonder and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to A Baby Bird Who Thinks I’m Her Mother

  1. Opher says:

    How valuable it is to seize those moments to develop empathy and compassion. Perfect Jennie.

  2. John Fioravanti says:

    It’s a beautiful story, Jennie – even more so because you “seized the moment” as Opher said. Lessons based on real-life experiences are golden – especially when the teacher and class experienced the moment together. Wow!

    • Jennie says:

      Well said, John. And, thank you. Those moments are precious and vital to children. Opher was right. I might add that ‘seizing the moment’ is the precursor to emergent curriculum. Big wow!

  3. Mischenko says:

    How beautiful, Jennie! This is something the kids won’t ever forget. ❤🧡💛

  4. beetleypete says:

    Good idea to teach the kids to return the bird to the wild. I remember finding a lost baby sparrow when I was a child. I brought it home and we put it in a shoe box. We put some water and bird seed in with it, and cotton wool to keep it warm. But it died soon after, because we didn’t really know how or what to feed it. I was only about 7, but I never forgot that poor baby bird.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  5. quiall says:

    Real life teaches better than words! And I loved that book.

  6. Maggie says:

    Beautiful story. Children are so eager to learn — especially about relationships and the wild.

  7. Great story, Jennie. Conservation and caring for others is a great lesson

  8. AJ says:

    What a great moment to share with kifs

  9. petespringerauthor says:

    Oh my gosh, Jennie, this is getting a little scary. After reading the title of your blog post, my mind immediately focused on the Are You My Mother book. When I opened the post, I was pleasantly surprised to see that you went there with your class. (Great minds think alike, ha-ha) What a precious photo of your students! Seeing those engaged faces reminds me of why I loved being a teacher.

    • Jennie says:

      I knew you would connect the book to the moment, Pete. If I can follow through, build on what’s happening, that’s important. Emergent curriculum at it’s best. Love your great minds quote! 🙂

  10. The kids will remember how gentle and kind you were with the bird and hopefully they’ll be like that if they’re faced with a situation where kindness is called for.

  11. beth says:

    how lucky and beautiful

  12. Darlene says:

    What a perfect teachable moment! The children will remember this episode.

  13. teacherturnedmommyblog says:

    perfect teachable moment! got to love having those moments where they can learn real life lessons and then see how it can be the jumping off point for other learning activities

  14. Ritu says:

    What a wonderful real life lesson!

  15. Sabrina says:

    So lovely! I love that book as well – a favourite from my childhood!

  16. Aww . . . LOVED it!!! When I was a grownup, I came home from work late one night, and there in a little bird’s nest, were three baby birds. I knew immediately they were in trouble. They were all chirping and cold, and their mama would not leave them in the next at 11:00 PM (I had been involved with a school play for the teens at school). So I took them in the nest into my bedroom, put them on a set of drawers next to the bed light, and got them wrapped all up in Kleenex and then fixed them dinner of egg plus bread plus water all mixed up and fed them all with an eye dropper. I have taken care of a lot of orphaned creatures in my lifetime so I knew what to do. Two of them did not make it, but the third one did, and the first day I took him with me and put him in the drawer of my office at the hospital. I had my own door somewhat shut, but my fellow workers heard him making little noises, so came and put a sign on the door, BICU (Bird Intensive Care Unit). But I could not keep him there for more than that day, so I asked some great friends in San Pedro, CA where I lived to take him for me. The husband was from Yugoslavia when it still was what it was, and he knew a lot about taking care of wild things. He developed a relationship with that bird that was like none I had seen. He would talk to it all the time, and allow it to fly out if it wanted to on his porch from the cage, but the bird never wanted to go. His friends came to visit though and to eat his food, which he shared happily. We called him Peepers, and he lived to be a good old 19 years old. In the end, he had arthritis, and could no longer sit on his perch, so my friend made him a comfy place to sit and hand fed him every day and made sure he had water. Whenever I would go visit them, Peepers would make his noise at the top of his lungs happily as I used to sing him to sleep with nursery rhymes and he would tweet as I would sing them to him (sort of sing songy). It is amazing how long they can live, and I am so glad your children had that wonderful experience. They will grow up to appreciate living things and teach their children to do the same and it will continue through the years hopefully. Thank you SO much for all you do for those babies. They are getting raised in the best possible ways.

  17. You do make everything a teachable opportunity. You have such a good heart and taught those children a very important lesson. I think most humans want to be kind to all animals. Now those sweet children have an idea of how to do it. Loved this story.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks so much, Marlene. I really try to seize those moments. The little things are really the big things. Will children remember that I taught them to write their name? No. Will they remember rescuing a baby bird? Yes. Of course a good book is the icing on the cake. I’m glad you loved this story. 🙂

  18. Beautiful life lessons right there Jennie 🙂

  19. magarisa says:

    Beautiful and heartwarming!

  20. Dan Antion says:

    What a good thing to do (saving the bird) and how wonderful that you scraped the plan and offered a different lesson. It’s great when we can learn from life.

  21. kevin cooper says:

    Bless! Great post!

  22. Kally says:

    Beautiful and wonderful lesson!

  23. Oh, what a wonderful story and gift to you all and the chick! I hope one day it flies down to talk to you again, and maybe just maybe if you open your hand and reach out…it lands there again and tells you all about its adventures! xx

  24. What a lovely story, Jennie. I have raised two baby birds who were abandoned by their mothers, a hoopoe bird and a dove. They are actually quite difficult to feed and look after.

    • Jennie says:

      I can’t imagine trying to take care of and feed a bird from the wild. Good for you, Robbie. Thank goodness this bird was able to eventually fly away. Many thanks!

  25. dgkaye says:

    It was meant to be you found the baby bird so you could help it find its mama. You’re amazing Jennie! ❤

  26. What a wonderful lesson, Jennie! Thank you for the book recommendation too. Michael

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