Sprite

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One day I found a baby bird that had almost been caught by a cat. I knew about the food chain, but even so, I thought that cat was really mean! I was afraid the cat might scratch me for taking away her lunch, but I had the courage to pick the baby bird up and take her inside. I asked my mom if I could take care of her until she could fly, but she said I should call the wildlife center first. I did, and they told me to stay where I found the bird and see if her parents came looking for her. If they didn’t return in an hour, they said, then I should bring the bird to the center. I waited for the bird’s parents, but they never came back. When I got to the center, they needed to tend to the bird’s injuries, but said I could keep her until she learned to fly, just as long as I understood the type of care she would need.
After the people at the wildlife center nursed the bird back to health, I picked a name for her. I decided to call her Sprite. Thinking that was a great name, the people at the wildlife center gave her to me and told me what I would need to do to take care of her. One thing they said was that I should take her to the center and every day and encourage her to fly outdoors, just as her mother would if she were around. I promised I would do it, but, after taking Sprite home, I discovered part of me that didn’t want her to learn to fly!  Part of me wanted to keep her forever! There was also a part of me, though, that wanted her to fly more than anything.
On days when I wanted Sprite to fly, I took her out at the wildlife center and encouraged her just as the wildlife center staff had instructed me to do. On days when I wanted to keep her, though, I didn’t. The people at the wildlife center started to notice this, and one day when I came in wanting to teach Sprite how to fly, they asked me why they didn’t see me every day. I hung my head, not wanting to admit the real reason.  Finally, though, I took a deep breath and let it all spill out.
“I really want to tame her and keep her as a pet!” I exclaimed. “Can you please teach me how to do that?”
“Sweetheart, I know how much you love her,” said one woman who was a staff member. “But you shouldn’t disregard the fact that she’s a wild bird, not a pet. She needs to be free. She wouldn’t be happy if you kept her.”
I felt like crying. I tried to hold it back, but felt even worse when I heard what the woman said next.
“if she goes too long without being taught to fly, she said “she’ll never learn. If you won’t teach her to fly, you will need to bring her back here so we can do it. It’s your choice.” That did it. I was crying before I could stop myself.
“I can teach her how to fly!” I said between tears, even though I wasn’t sure it was true.
“We’ll give you one more chance,” said the woman. “If you don’t come in with her tomorrow afternoon, we will call you and ask to have her back the next day.” I nodded, but wasn’t sure what to say. I took Sprite home.
The next afternoon, and several afternoons after that, I wasted no time taking her to the wildlife center to learn to fly. After hearing that she might never learn to fly if I didn’t teach her, I think the side of me that wanted her to won out.
After being encouraged a few more times by me and the people at the wildlife center, Sprite was finally flying on her own. I had gotten my wish, and all of me was happy. I think the same was true of her.
After saying goodbye to Sprite at home, I took her to the wildlife center to be released. As soon as we let her out of her cage, she was off! I waved goodbye as she flew away. I don’t know how, but somehow I had faith that I would see her again.

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