Just a flash of something falling was all we saw.   I stopped the lesson and went to the window and opened it to see what it was.  Half of the class came over and looked as well.  It was so small that we didn’t spot it at first.  Probably just a bird, judging by the little white streak left on the window.
“Oh, there it is, I see it!” said Michael.  “It’s on the window ledge just below this one.”  It was quite stunned from its collision with the window.  It looked dead.
“No, it’s not dead, I thought, otherwise it would be on its side, not sitting upright as if it were perched there.”
We sent Henri with Michael down to the class below to get the fallen bird and bring it back for inspection.
Meanwhile, I tried to continue the exercise that we had begun.  Curiously, it was a poem talking about a bird in an apple tree…  Perfect timing to invite a bird into our room, I thought.  I couldn’t have planned it better.

“SHHH!,” whispered Michael, as he opened the door.  “It’s scared.  Don’t talk; it’ll frighten him.”

He set the small white box that I had given him on the table and I began to open it to examine its contents.  I was amazed how quickly every single middle school student had complied with Michael’s request.  And I was even more surprised to see how carefully, how responsibly the boy carried the box and ever-so-gingerly set it upon the table.  Never before had I had the wildest inclination to associate even one of those three adverbs with that child.

No one made the slightest sound.  I couldn’t believe my ears.
I slowly lifted the lid and peered at the little bird.  I half expected the students to begin pushing and shoving to get a closer look, as if their quietness couldn’t possibly last more than a few seconds.  But they didn’t.  In fact, I’m certain than several of the students actually stopped breathing for a moment.
“He’s so tiny!”  A couple of the girls exclaimed in a whisper.
“There’s no way he can fly!” Shannon announced.  “He’s got to be too young.”
“But it’s October! Baby birds usually hatch in the spring,” someone said.
“Let’s keep it as a class pet, ” a couple students suggested.

I thought that likely the bird would recover and fly away soon, but it’s true that it still hadn’t moved more than blinking it’s tiny, black eyes.  I went to my desk and got the camera to take some pictures of it before it fully recovered.

“Do you know what kind it is, Mr. Miller?”  Daniel asked.
“Not at all, I’m not very good with birds’ names.  Wouldn’t it be funny if it were the same bird as the one in the poem?”

I had Mara go get the dictionary to look up the bird from the poem to see if there was a picture of it.  Before she got to the V’s though, she squealed. “Check this out!   It’s right here!”
Indeed it was.   The class crowded around both bird and book to compare the image with the live creature.  Amazing!  They were identical in every way!

“Well that was easy, I thought; it’s a roitelet.”  The Latin name was Regulus regulus .  “Little king,” I explained to the class.  Like The Little Prince of Saint Exupéry (which in Latin is indeed translated Regulus). The tiny bird–of the smallest species in Europe in fact, weighing about five grams–began to move its head and look around, blinking it’s eyes more frequently.  It still hadn’t drunk any of the water Robert had offered it in the cap from his bottle, yet it was obviously more alert and relaxed.

The students started whistling and making chirping noises.  I joined in, curious to find out if the bird would answer back.  Instead, it decided to take to its wings and flew up out of the box, to the general surprise and contentment of the class.

“Whatever you do, don’t open the door,” I half shouted as the previous calmness gave way to excited chatter and general chaos.

The bird decided to give us a little acrobatic display on the wires running along the ceiling and held onto first one, then the other, more or less upside down.  After a few back and forth flights across the room and between the wires, it found the open window and made its escape.

Ironically, upon leaving our room, it flew right into yet another closed window on the other wall of the courtyard.  Silly bird.  At least this time it didn’t fall, but instead flew up above the roof and probably high-tailed it back to its cozy little nest from whence it had come to pay us such an unexpected visit.
 


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