The Theissen family gained a very unexpected member of their family in 2015 – an orphaned blue jay.
Dina Theissen found the bird one day lying next to a tree near to their home and, concerned for his well-being, consulted a wildlife expert as to the best course of action. Following this advice, only once it was clear that the little animal's mother wasn't returning, did his new mom take him in.
The kind woman introduced the bird, named Gracie, to her daughter Alyssa and her husband Ken, who were both equally as determined to save the blue jay.
They made Gracie a new home in their conservatory and cared for him every day for six weeks, always with the goal of re-releasing him into the wild. Little by little he got stronger and the family tried to teach Gracie survival instincts, such as foraging for food. Dina recounted to The Dodo:
After a while I saw him notice the insects flying around and we became a great foraging team. I would lift him up and lead him toward the insects so that he could learn to forage himself. It was amazing to see him succeed in such a remarkable way. I was his mommy in every way.
As the little bird got stronger and stronger, his family slowly began to let him explore the outside world more. At first, the bird was hesitant, but with time she became more confident. Six weeks after Dina Theissen found the weak blue jay, Gracie was ready to fly out into the wild.
However, his adoptive family wasn't sad about losing their new friend for too long, because the next day Gracie came back for a visit, and has done every day since.
Even when tragedy struck and Dina was diagnosed with ovarian cancer Gracie continued to visit, and her visits even became longer. Dina explains how important the bird was to her during this time:
I can honestly say that without Gracie's presence during that time, things would have been a lot different, emotionally for me, and even Alyssa and Ken, too. He has helped us in ways that one can only feel … even if not fully explained.
Luckily, Dina is now in remission. The whole family is so grateful to have Gracie in their lives and have even made the bird his own Instagram account.
If you would like to see more of Gracie's adventures, follow his Instagram account here.
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