My goal in fourth grade was to become a veterinarian. I don’t know why. I wasn’t even allowed to have a real pet. I did have a goldfish named Cecil, for awhile, but I was too lazy to clean the fishbowl. When my mom noticed how disgusting the water looked and how bad it smelled, she demanded I clean it ASAP. Since I was the head veterinarian in my bedroom, I asked my assistant to take care of that chore. My younger sister, Heather, was a kind and helpful kid, so she agreed to do my job for me. I left the house.
When I returned home, I noticed the water in the fishbowl was super clean, but Cecil was MIA. When I finally saw Cecil, I let out a blood curdling scream. He was laying on the rug, DOA. My dad dashed into my room. I blamed Heather for the gruesome scene. Dad grabbed Cecil by the tail, ran to the nearest toilet, and flushed him down. I was furious! “Heather needs to be punished and I need a new fish!” My dad lectured, “You told Heather to do your chore for you. You didn’t tell her not to fill the bowl to the top. The fish is dead because you were lazy. No new fish!”
I got over Cecil’s death pretty quickly. Mostly because my neighbor, Cecil, an actual human I admired and named a fish after, showed me a bird’s nest that had fallen out of a tree and onto his lawn. The nest had four eggs in it. Cecil told me we should keep an eye on the eggs to make sure no harm came to them. He put a temporary fence around the nest. He also told me not to touch the eggs because the birds’ parents would reject them if they smelled like humans. (I have since learned that isn’t true.)
Every day after school I ran to Cecil’s backyard to look at the nest. Finally, one of the eggs had a small crack and within a fairly short time a sticky gooey baby bird wiggled its way out of the egg. By the next day, all four of the baby birds were peeping in the nest.
While Cecil was at work, I decided to put my imagined veterinary skills to use. I dug up worms and tried to get the babies to eat, but they wouldn’t. I filled a plastic lid with water and set it in the nest, but the babies wouldn’t drink. They just kept peeping louder and louder. “Quiet down guys, or some harmful predator will find you,” I whispered as I placed more and more “useful” items in their nest…lettuce, leaves, bugs, sticks, a small toy troll. They weren’t interested in anything I had to offer.
Because the birds were in Cecil’s yard, I hadn’t been able to observe them 24/7. If I had, I would have known that the babies’ parents were nearby, feeding them and watching over them. And they were getting very concerned about the fourth grade predator who was constantly tossing debris into their family home.
That evening after dinner, I returned to the nest with some cooked carrots. (They seemed worm-like, but more delicious.) I was getting ready to place them in the nest when I heard a loud squawking sound. I looked up in the sky and witnessed a giant cloud of feathers speeding toward me, hundreds of angry beady eyes and sharp beaks. Suddenly, I was the Tippi Hedren in a real life Alfred Hitchcock film. I threw the cooked carrots in the air and ran into Cecil’s house, terrified. He and his wife were hosting a fancy dinner party. I can’t imagine what their guests thought of the small lunatic with carrot-stained hands, red-faced, and screaming, “The birds are trying to kill me!” Cecil thought it was hilarious! Which is exactly why I named my first pet, Cecil.
Click NESTS to get the template and instructions for this project.