by Dr. Olivier Berreville / CETFA
It was a sweltering late afternoon on Canada day when my friends and I, about to go out for dinner, noticed a baby swallow on the ground in our garage. He had fallen from his nest. We had seen the nest high up in the rafters several days before, and anticipating potential problems, had placed soft blankets onto which the baby had fallen, unharmed. But even in the 35⁰C heat, the chick was cold and seemed weak. I took him into my hands to warm him up, and gave him a few drops of water. Minutes later, he started to perk up again. Now, he just needed to be put back into the nest.
We looked up to see how high the nest was and noticed that another baby swallow was in distress, hanging upside down from the nest, making vain attempts to right herself. The nest was about 25’ above our heads, and the longest ladder we could find led only 3/4 of the way to the baby swallows. After many unsuccessful attempts and all of us drenched in sweat, the fate of the chicks seemed to be an unavoidable death. Yet, how could we drive away, leaving two baby birds to suffer and die? We had to keep trying.
After more creative thinking (and less-creative sweating), we pulled a pick-up truck under the nest, and lifted the ladder onto its tailgate. I climbed up the ladder and noticed that the chick hanging from the nest was clinging to a near-by metal wire. I put one hand under the baby’s body to support her and tried to gently open her toes but she was clinging the wire too tightly; if I applied more pressure, her fragile toes and legs could break. I rotated her little body above the metal wire and as soon as her body started to touch the nest, she immediately let go of the wire and, with my support, fell softly back into the nest, among her brothers and sisters.
Another climb up the ladder with the fallen chick and the entire family was reunited. What had first appeared like an impossible task was in fact very easy, with just the will to make it happen.
This same lesson applies to farmed animals. Looking at the suffering of the 700 million farmed animals slaughtered every year in Canada, the task of helping them seems daunting and impossible at first. But, by adopting a cruelty-free, compassionate diet, each one of us can easily make a significant difference for farmed animals…with just the will to make it happen.
Update: As of July 11, all the baby swallows, including the two rescued, have left the nest. They now spend their days flying around the yard, and visit us when we water the vegetable garden.