Monday, June 7, 2010

Story of Mongo

Our trip to the Bahamas started out like any other—woke up early, 4 am early, dressed comfy in my hand drawn parrot tee and left for the airport. I kept busy on the two plane rides and one ferry by reading a new book (about a bird) and before long we arrived on the sunny island of Elbow Cay.

After a day of travel and unwinding into the salty air of a far off enclave, we spent the day at the Hope town beach. The crystal sea foam water and white sand was paradise and life was good, but on the way back to the house, on the very few concrete roads of civilization, a tiny creature struggled in the afternoon blazing sun. It felt like fate that I happen to stumble upon a nestling on the street to the local bakery.

With a nest so high on a telephone pole and no mother in site, I felt obligated to help this hopeless bird. What is the right thing to do I asked myself? I know the island is streaming with wandering cats and on the road well taken, I knew this birdie didn't have a chance.

I knew a little about taking care of a baby bird but I am no expert, so maybe it was selfish to take the fate of this bird into my hands, but I did feel like it was the best option at the time. I brought her home and fed her. I fed it probably 12 times a day. The little guy seemed desperate to live. For something just born, vulnerable and dependent, instinct came natural and I had the joy of watching a small life nestle in a bowl of tissue (a makeshift nest) for a week. It's strength for survival amazed me—just watching her flip herself over was incredible. We named her Mongo.

After a night of caring for Mongo, we returned to the nest and saw the mother sitting on it high up on the pole. It was a ring dove. We asked a local if there was an animal rescue on the island and he suggested we talk to Candy Cay, a local lady who kept parrots and other birds—she would be able to help. After talking to her and her schedule being too busy to mother such a baby, she said we could pass the birdie off to her if it survived the week. I was determined to keep this little guy alive so it could one day meet its mother and siblings it once shared its nest with.

The night before I would pass the bird off to a better trained "bird lady", after feeding and keeping it warm for 6 days, I fed Mongo one last time. We watched a movie and I checked on Mongo and he had passed. With no warning or any signs my novice eye could see, the little birdie died.

I wish I was better prepared. I wish I had known more. I wish I had just put her in a basket in a nearby tree in hopes that her real mother would find her. I have so many regrets and in the end I am not sure I did the right thing. Maybe I missed Pico so much and this little bird was a weak replacement. I don't know. In the end it was a lesson for me and I will always remember little birdie Mongo. ox


  1. Aww RIP Mongo. Maybe she didn't want to die alone, but with someone who care for her. And that was you! :]

  2. I had a similar experience with 3 newborn rabbits a few years ago. The mother rejected them, and I tried to keep them alive. The problem that the vet told me, though, was that synthetic rabbit formula does not exist (or at least not in the tiny town we lived in), and the survival rate for orphaned baby rabbits is very low. I still tried (how could I not?), but after only 3 days they had all passed (two of them died on my birthday). I understood what I was getting into, but it was still so unbelievably sad..
    RIP Mongo.

  3. no no... you did the right thing! I promise. Living here on the islands, i know there is a need for people like you who care about animals (dogs, cats, birds...anything) You tried your hardest... I would feel guilty if I didn't do anything to help out. Mongo was here to teach us all something in his/her short life :)

  4. Kristin, we had a similar experience with a baby hummingbird last year. The parents had abandoned the nest and this little fledgling was all alone, and as you probably know they need food constantly at that age or they'll die. We fed him every two hours for nearly days, and were so amazed at how valiantly he seemed to be trying. We could physically see new downy feathers that had emerged, and he seemed to be doing better...but then we found he'd died, all alone in his little nest. I was devastated, and cried for a long time afterwards.

    It was miraculous to hold this beautiful, breathing creature and to know he wanted so much to live...but in the end, like you, I'm not sure whether we did the right thing by intervening either. Our neighbor told us that sometimes the parents just know if the babies have some illness and aren't likely to survive, and sometimes will abandon the nest because of that. It was a heartbreaking experience that made my heart ache for a long time, but I wouldn't trade that brief, wonderful experience of knowing him for anything.

    I have some photos posted on Flickr if you're interested. I didn't have the heart to update the set with the news that he'd passed, but I do like to look back on the photos and memories.

  5. I know this comment is a little late - but I just read your post! You absolutely, without question did the right thing. If there were more people in the world with huge hearts like yours, then this world would be such an amazing place. You gave that baby bird a week of love and nuturing where it passed in peace, when it otherwise could have died in terror or pain. Bravo and thank you from a fellow animal lover!

  6. I'm glad Mongo had you ((((()))))