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I have been self-isolating with my family in the Costa Rica jungle for weeks now. The sun is just starting to peek its head over the mountain as I enjoy my first sip of hot Costa Rican coffee. Beaches have been closed for what seems like forever. The normal sounds of the locals heading down to the beach hoping to catch a killer wave have been eerily replaced by amplified jungle sounds.

On this particulate day, the Costa Rica jungle air seems more alive than most mornings. Chirps can be heard from different birds as they pass overhead. The bird songs are overpowered by the frightening roars of the howler monkeys. The monkeys are announcing to the jungle it’s a new day and time to wake up. The rustling of the dry grass adds another sound layer as the iguanas start to emerge from their homes to join in. High-pitched echoes from locusts are announcing the first rains will be here soon. The tapping of my computer keys joins in with the rhythm as I start my storytelling.

Alarming interruption

I have lost all track of time and the world around me has disappeared. As I dig deeper into the story everything starts to come together. Then my attention is pulled away from my work as I hear an unfamiliar screeching sound. The barking of dogs begins to ring out, quickly joined by the sound of a small child crying. A young woman’s voice grows louder and louder as she yells “GO HOME, GO HOME!”

Quickly snapped back into realty, I try not to drop my computer as I struggle to jump to my feet. I rush over to the edge of the porch where I peer down the steep hill to the small dirt road below. To my horror I can see a toddler running around a stroller as it cries out. A young woman trying to push two dogs away waves her arms frantically in the air. She is attempting to shield what looks like an injured parakeet. Struggling to regain flight, the bird vigorously flaps its wings. One of the wings appears injured. The beautiful bright feathers move up and down in a quick lashing motion as the bird continues to let out a horrible screeching noise and rolls around on the ground. 

My heart sinks as I turn to grab the collars of the two dogs that came barreling out of my house. I catch myself from falling down the steep hill as the dogs jerk my arms. I struggled to not let go of their collars. Our dog’s barks join in the ruckus while they pull, trying to break free. 

As I try to calm my dogs, I see my husband stumble out of our bedroom to see what is going on. The young lady at the bottom of the hill yells out, asking if we have a towel to rap the injured bird. 

My husband quickly runs to grab a towel and heads to the bottom of the hill. He discusses the status of the bird and agrees to find care for it. My husband leaves the woman and carries the bird up the driveway. Reassuring the toddler that the bird is going to be ok, the woman decides to leave. I quickly turn my attention to the bird, having no idea what to do with an injured parakeet. My mind quickly shifts to go wake up my daughter Taya. 

Quick to help and care

Taya has been taking vet classes and volunteering at a couple of local animal shelters. She also was working with local vets, so I wondered, will she know what to do? I immediately wake Taya. She jumps out of bed and sends a message to our vet, Dr. Cavallini, then runs to where the injured bird is wrapped in a beach towel.

Not knowing whether Dr. Cavallini would answer a text message so early in the morning, I jump online and reach out to my tribe on Facebook. I also send personal messages to others I know work with animals in the area. Fortunately, Dr. Cavallini replies to Taya’s text within minutes. Local animal rescue groups from all over the country also reach out to offer assistance, while others volunteer to help with transportation. 

Following instructions from the vet and a couple more animal shelters, we place the bird in a box in a dark room for calming, while figuring out what to do next. My husband and I agree that Taya should work with the local animal rescue as the bird regains its strength. 

These next three days are critical in determining if the bird would be able to return to its flock. Otherwise the rest of its life would have to be spent in a rescue shelter. 

New friend gets a name

I watch my daughter work with the vets over the next few days to help our new friend, who we named “Captain Crunch Wrap Supreme.” Taya decides to make a perch for the injured parakeet, finding some sticks in the jungle and tying them together with string. Her dad teaches her how to tie square lashes to secure the perch.

Over the next couple days, Taya shows us what Captain Crunch Wrap Supreme should eat in order to regain his strength. She ends up making two different perches for her new friend. 

On the fourth day, Taya checks Captain Crunch Wrap Supreme’s status. To her surprise, he has eaten more food than any other day since the accident. She also places him in the yard where flocks of parakeets fly by while she washes the cage.

His injured wing seems to be much better and he is almost able to stretch it out straight. Next, Captain Crunch Wrap Supreme jumps off his perch and walks across the yard. He then tests his voice and lets out a couple of big squawks before climbing up into our pineapple bush. From there, he spreads his wings and with a few flaps, flies off. 

Just as quickly as Captain Crunch Wrap Supreme came into our lives, he’s left us. Stretching his neck and wings out, his beautiful colors shining in the open air, he’s gone with one final squawk to join his flock. 

As our time of self-isolation continues, I miss our parakeet, Captain Crunch Wrap Supreme. 

This injured bird distracted me from the troubles of the world. I watched my husband teach our daughter a new skill. I was also able to see just how much Taya had learned from her volunteer work. I witnessed our community and country come together as well. In addition, I witnessed a healing. Captain Crunch Wrap Supreme reminded me that there are beautiful things going on in the world.

 

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The Howler Magazine