A memory of a very special African Hoopoe

Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.

1 Timothy 6 : 11
Our African Hoopoe

It was break time at Townsend Girls High School. The old war siren which signalled class change and break time was about to blast and there lying in a furrow below the spout of a rain pipe were two newly hatched, featherless, yellow beaked birds. Rather bedraggled after being swished down.

It was Friday, the last one of the month which meant that as soon as we got home we would be getting ready to spend the weekend on my uncle and aunt’s farm, 100 miles away. I remember making a quick decision to rescue the birds. They would just have to come with us.

A cardboard box with holes in the lid and a towel inside. Then after my last lesson my precious parcel was on my bike and home we went. This weekend was critical for these two birds. Mum taught me to chew raw mince and then feed the birds carefully watching their crops fill. Their bodies were transparent and delicate and their mouths so wide open and yellow rimmed begging for food that they weren’t easy to miss. Their absolute dependence made me nervous yet determined to fight for them. Sadly the weakest of the hatchlings died on our return journey but the bigger one was shouting for food and very much alive.

He soon grew feathers and then came the day he flew from chair to chair his small wings grasping the air then slowly opening wider to glide. We were so proud of him. My uncle said: “that bird is doing odd jobs round the house you should call him Tweety Carpenter”.

Once fully grown he found a mate and continued to live mostly as a wild bird in our garden. Every now and then however, he would come to visit and sit on my mum’s shoulder.

Our Hoopoe Tweety Carpenter visiting Mum’s hand.
Tweety Carpenter on my auntie Esther’s hand. She was the aunt who loved sewing. I wish I had a picture of my Mum but she was the one most often taking pictures with her beloved box camera.

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