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A Boy’s Compassion [publisher's letter]

Publisher Tracy Patterson with her dog sitting in the desert resting up from a hike

Tracy Patterson

In a recent publisher’s letter, I wrote about a child protecting my handicapped dog from another child; while reading this month’s feature article, “Raising a Well-Rounded Child,” another touching story comes to mind.

In our complex, there are drainage grates in the road. They are narrow, but don’t have screens, so at one particular spot where the quail cross, their tiny chicks sometimes drop through the grate and are unable to get out.

I was unaware of this problem until I came home about a month ago to find a group of people gathered at the grate. I thought someone had accidentally dropped their keys down there. I figured they’d get them out, so I went on about my business.

Later that evening, just before dark, I was returning from a walk and noticed people out there again! This time, I thought: “There’s definitely something else going on. It must have something to do with an animal.” So I went over, and that’s when I learned about the plight of these baby birds.

Adults and children were trying everything, but one creative teen was the rock star. He took a little fish net (you know, the ones we use to scoop out our goldfish when cleaning their tank) and taped it to another pole to make it long enough to reach down to the babies. He had another pole that he used to gently nudge each chick into the fish net and scoop it out of the grate.

The boy worked diligently to get every one of these chicks out of the grate, operating with a “no-man-left-behind” policy. He was out until dark and at it again in the early morning. It took a while to rescue 16 babies who weren’t too happy with the scoop! I tell you, this was one impressive kid, and I told him as such. He didn’t have an adult coaching him; it was all his own doing. It reminded me of when I was young and us kids were free to create, think for ourselves, and often save domestic and wild critters in the neighborhood.

Not only was it good to see this creativity in a modern young person, it was heartwarming (to the point where it almost brought me to tears!) to see the compassion, caring and stick-to-itiveness exhibited by him in this situation.

As for the chicks―the last I heard, it was being determined whether the parents were still around or if they needed to be taken to the wildlife center.

As for the grate―this has obviously happened before and will likely happen again. There are ongoing discussions about possible solutions. Thanks to this young man, at least we have a backup plan!