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A Bird Goes Shopping

Ms. Fernybunch stepped out of the small classroom to survey the spring loveliness. The colors almost glowed with life and the smells caused Fernybunch to pause, close her eyes and drink it all in. Ah, the country… Wendell quickly approached her feet hoping for a leftover from the children’s lunches. Wendell was a giant American rabbit who lived at the country school. Once a tiny bundle of soft white fur that now was the size of a small dog, he greets the children each morning and has become very good at being interested, but keeping his distance. Wendell was now molting or blowing his coat. His coat had served him well during the cold winter season and now he was preparing for the warmer months ahead . Little puff balls of white decorated the school yard. Having the look of litter, Ms. Fernybunch started to gather them into her hand to throw away. From the corner of her eye, she spied a small bird. The Tufted Titmouse was also interested in this fuzzy litter and busily began to gather Wendell's fur in her beak. Normally a shy bird, the titmouse boldly hopped from one patch of grass to the other collecting puffs of white.

"Shopping I see," Ms. Fernybunch squeaked out loud.

Ms. Fernybunch thought about what her own nest included-piles of clutter, necessities-or so she thought. At this moment the simplicity of the bird’s basic needs inspired Fernybunch. This bird’s shopping list was small, but effective. Each Spring birds have a driving need to collect the same things for their nests. Robins always collect mud and straw, chickadees always seek out moss and lichen. It’s been observed that the Tufted Tit mouse even pulls fur from sleeping animals! Luckily, the schoolyard was stocked with Wendell's unneeded puffy tufts, the first item on this little bird’s list. Fernybunch takes joy that the titmous's preferred shopping happens at the schoolyard where her students can watch this miracle unfold.

As she turned around to enter the schoolroom, she crouched close to Wendell and stroked his soft coat. Suddenly, she had the urge to tug and a clump of fur was deposited in her hand. She strolled into the classroom and placed it in a small basket, knowing that if this tiny clump was important enough for a feathered friend, it would hold a place of prominence in the tiny hands that discovered it the next day.

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