When my children were growing up, we lived in an old Colonial with an enormous barn, a pasture and an apple orchard. Everything was perfect except for a rotting old apple shed next to the barn. It was decided that Daddy would take it down.

About two days into the task, he found a crying baby bird on the ground. No mother in sight, no nest in sight. Daddy gently picked up the baby and brought him inside.

We placed the baby in a flannel baby blanket-lined cardboard box and put a lamp above the box for warmth. Every two hours for the next several weeks, I put chick starter in a saucer, mixed it with a little water and fed our new baby by hand.

The children loved to watch the baby bird. They decided it must be a boy so we named him “Admiral Bird.” My son was so pleased to “have a new baby brother.” This baby bird was definitely part of our family.

When Admiral outgrew the box, we had a lovely cage for him but he also had freedom to fly around the house. He was potty trained and slept in his cage too.

He went outside with us to play. He stayed near us and would land on a shoulder or a head to be loved on. He would come in at night or when we called him.

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At the time, our son was only 5 and a bit mischievous. One day, he threw a small stone at a passing car. Daddy was in the driveway but didn’t see it happen. Suddenly the car pulled over and the driver, a Marine, got out. He walked over to “Daddy” and told him that his son had just thrown a rock at his new car.

Admiral immediately flew over and landed on the head of his “daddy.”

Caught off-guard, the Marine asked my husband if he knew a bird was on his head. My husband said, “Yes, he is part of the family,” and smiled. Miraculously, the other man began to smile, too, and soon they were laughing and talking. Our son was told to never throw another stone at a car.

One afternoon the next summer, we decided to go to the county fair in the next town. I went to put Admiral in his cage to stay while we were gone. My husband said, “Oh, let him be. He knows where to potty. Don’t cage him up.”

He kept flying to my shoulder, wanting to go with us. I put him on a chair and ran out the door and quickly closed it behind me. When we got home and opened the door, Admiral was lying on the floor … dead. We were devastated.

It appears he was flying after us and, just as we closed the door, he flew into it and broke his neck. We had a funeral for him and cried and cried. This happened almost 60 years ago and Admiral’s siblings still talk about him with love.

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