There was one occasion when my wife and I were out walking when we heard the sound of a bird signalling an alarm. Although our attention was attracted to the bird, which was sitting in a shrub within a nearby garden, neither of us at first gave it much thought.
As we continued for a few more steps, the little bird remained very agitated and continued to blast out the same alarm call. My wife asked me what I thought might be the problem and I thought that perhaps there might have been a cat somewhere close. But my wife decided to go over to the garden to investigate further.
When she got to the garden, which had a little wall and a wrought iron fence on top, she could see through the fence and on the path, there was a magpie which had caught a sparrow. The magpie had the sparrow pinned down and was repeatedly hacking at the bird with its beak. My wife clapped her hands a few times and both birds flew away.
What happened next is what has stayed with me all these years. The sparrow flew down and landed in a shop doorway, just to our right. He seemed to bob his head a couple of times and then he flew away. My wife immediately commented that it was very nice of him to come and say thanks. I really have no idea what goes on in the mind of a sparrow but that’s exactly what it seemed like.
From time to time, if ever we walk that same way, one of us might ask, “do you remember that little sparrow?” We are still both amazed at what happened. Could the bird have actually been saying thank you? It may be more likely that he was just a bit disorientated after a severe pecking and had simply flown off in the wrong direction.
His apparent bob of the head could have just been him coming to terms with the headache that the magpie had given him. But you try telling my wife that. As far as she is concerned, in its own way, that little bird said thank you.
We did not notice the other bird, the one that had raised the alarm and persisted even though, at first, there did not seem to be any help arriving. But he really had saved the life of this little fellow through his action even though he could not take on the magpie, he was able to change the situation with persistence.
There are some great lessons in there for us. Firstly, in difficult situations where you feel helpless, you should at least do whatever you can; who knows what might turn up as a consequence? Second, if you don’t get what you need right away, don’t give up. Third, if someone helps you out, remembering to say thank you can go a long way.