Experience: I let a baby bird nest in my hair for 84 days

He was abandoned by his flock, his nest blown from the mango tree. His eyes were tightly shut and he was shuddering, too young to survive alone. He was the size of my little finger, with feathers the colour of Rich Tea biscuits, inky eyes and a small bill like a pencil lead. I placed him in a cardboard box with tea towels, mimicking a nest, and stayed up all night, researching how to care for him. I spoke to an expert who said it would take 12 weeks to prepare him for the wild.

The next day, he woke with his mouth open and a shrill hunger call. I fed him termites and, instinctively, chirped at him. He chirped back and clambered into my hand, digging in his beak and head, then fell asleep in my palm. As far as he was concerned, I was his mother.

For the next 84 days, the fledgling lived on me. We became inseparable. He would fly alongside me, or cling to me as I went from room to room in the house, while we walked the grasslands or when I drove. He’d rest in my hand. As he learned to fly, he’d make short flights from my hand, to my shoulder, to my head, then abseil down my waist-length hair to rest again. He investigated my clothes, belt and shoelaces. I ate and went to the toilet one-handed, as he took daily naps in my cupped palm. At dusk, I would stroke and chirp to him until his eyes drooped and his head lolled to one side. Then I’d lower him into his tea towel nest and leave him until dawn. —Guardian

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