A bird in the hand is definitely worth more than one in a bush

I was sitting with a couple as part of a marriage preparation session today, and just as we were wrapping things up one of our parish teenagers came to the office door. She was sobbing, and tears were streaming down her face. I got up, startled, and asked her what was wrong. “It’s my bird,” she sniffled. “He’s going to die.”

Her bird?

Yep, her bird. Why was he going to die? Because he was a tropical bird, and it was cold outside.


It turned out that this young lady had left her house while the bird was out of its cage, and in such a way that the bird was able to fly away down the block. Apparently the bird is a Catholic, however, because it flew to the church and was sitting in a maple tree on our lawn.

So I went outside, and saw her sister there anxiously talking into her cellphone. “Do you have a ladder, Father?” Um, sure. So I told my engaged couple that our meeting was now over, as I had to work to help rescue a tropical bird sitting in our tree.

You just never know what to expect in this job. :-)

After putting on my coat and boots and bringing out the stepladder, I noticed a police cruiser coming down the street and turning into our Church parking lot. I went over to greet the police officer to see what was up.

I discovered that the second sister (the one on her cell phone) had called the fire department (!) to try and get them to come and rescue the bird. They had refused, saying they didn’t do animals (only people), but since she had called 911 (!!) the police decided to come and investigate. A second police vehicle arrived, one labelled “Supervisor”, so pretty soon we had 3 cops and a trainee staring up into the tree (!!!) alongside two close-to-hysterical young women and a priest trying hard to remain compassionate without laughing. (That last one would be me, by the way.)

The bird didn’t like all this attention, apparently, because he flew higher into the tree, and then over to another tree, and then onto the roof of the church. By this time the father of the girls had arrived, so the next thing I knew he was climbing onto the roof after the animal. I had another engaged couple arriving, however, so I took my leave of the gang, turning it all over to the pastor (who had just come back from a morning appointment wondering why there were police in our parking lot).

So I’m sitting in the office, chatting with the couple. I have my back to the window, which means they are able to look past me onto the other side of the church. At one point I noticed that the future groom was no longer looking at me, but looking past me onto the lawn. And then the bride was doing the same thing, asking me “Who are all those people walking around on the lawn? And why does one of them have a gun?” So I turned around, only discover the bird had taken flight once again and was now on the *other* side of the church (the police still being present to help — God knows how).

The story does have a happy ending. After the girl called the mayor (!!!!) to try and get some help from the city in the rescue operation, the bird eventually came down to land on the finger of one of the girls. They took it home, where it (hopefully) will now be safe and sound.

Did I mention that we priests really do see it all? I’m nowhere near to getting all the mileage I can out of this story, and I have a feeling it is only going to get better with each telling. :-)

Finally, I’d just like to mention that I have the explicit permission of the family to tease them by writing this post. They are good sports, and we all had a pretty good laugh the next day. Who knows how God is going to use this incident for his glory — but I can almost see the twinkle in His eye.