By Jen Moran, Activities Director
For years, the residents of Emporia Presbyterian Manor have enjoyed having a small collection of animals in the building. We currently have two parakeet aviaries and one large fish tank. These animals are entertaining to watch and are a popular source of amusement and relaxation.
Until recently, the Manor has fortunately faced few issues with these creatures. Slightly over two weeks ago, however, when I was changing the water in one of the aviaries, I saw that a tiny, featherless bird had fallen out of one of the nesting boxes. I had learned that parakeet parents removed sick or dead babies from their nests in this way, but the bird in question seemed relatively healthy.
I put the bird back into the nesting box, hoping that the adults had accidentally removed the baby and would care for it again. Unfortunately, I found the baby the next day, again on the bottom of the aviary. This time its body was much colder and I no longer trusted the parents to care for the baby.
I happened to have baby bird formula at home, from a wild bird that I'd previously tried to nurse back to health. I nestled the baby into my clothing and took it home to see if it would eat.
To my surprise, the baby ate well. I did some online research and discovered that the baby was probably only one or two days old. I read that it wasn't likely that the bird would survive in its vulnerable state, but, with the encouragement of co-workers and residents alike, I continued to feed it every two hours and kept it warm, either in my clothing, or with heated pads made for birds or reptiles.
As I write this, I have had the bird for two weeks. It is starting to get feathers and has become an enthusiastic eater. My daughter has named it "Jellybean" and we have developed a schedule and a means of keeping it warm and fed 24 hours a day.
Throughout this journey, I have learned how to use a variety of instruments to feed Jellybean, as its needs have changed. I've learned that certain "peeps" mean that it is hungry, and I know how it behaves when it has had enough to eat and needs to sleep.
I have also learned the value of good friends and co-workers – the value of the people at Emporia Presbyterian Manor who have prayed for the tiny bird and eagerly asked about it when we cross paths throughout the day. I've watched apprehension from not knowing if Jellybean was going to live or die turn into amazement. Introverted personalities seek me out to hear about the bird and tired eyes brighten when they hear its name.
This experience has been brief – only two weeks so far – but it has been a wonderful one. I am grateful to my supervisor for being kind and allowing me the chance to give Jellybean a chance. I am grateful for the sweet words of encouragement I've gotten from residents. And I am so, so grateful for what this funny little bird has added to the lives of myself, my family, and my friends at Emporia Presbyterian Manor.
I'm excited to watch Jellybean grow and become a bigger part of our community at the Manor. Unlike the other birds, Jellybean will be able to accompany me to activities and perch on residents' fingers. I imagine introducing Jellybean to new residents and watching it lift moods and create smiles. To me, Jellybean the parakeet is a Christmas miracle that I get to share with people I care about, every day.
Merry Christmas and God Bless!