OTTAWA -- “I had a gift from nature”.

Luskville, Quebec artist Ruby Ewen was spying her cat, Fiddle, toy with a resident chipmunk near the woodpile, when the morning calm was interrupted.

“I heard ‘cheep, cheep, cheep. And the tone kept getting more hysterical,” said Ewen.

“And on the other side of the house was a tiny baby bird, no bigger than a leaf. She was in the full sun and I thought it’s either the sun, the cat, or me. So, knowing all of the ethical stuff about picking up baby birds and returning them to the nest, I brought her into the house.”

For the next month, Ewen and her cat would share their home with the robin and nurse it back to health.

Ruby and robin

“A friend came by and said, ‘you know, to that cat that bird is a cinnamon bun, so I called her Cinnamon Bun.”

And so began an extraordinary friendship between two souls who found comfort in each other. Ewen, an accomplished painter and gifted multi-media artist, would balance nourishing her artistic appetite with feeding a ravenous newborn.

“The first week, she just stayed in the bowl and ate and slept. In the beginning, I was feeding her every 15 minutes.”

The robin was atypically social and comfortable around her human caretaker.

“She really knew my place was home and she wasn’t afraid of me at all. She stayed in the house at night, but she had full reign of the yard during the day. She liked to come in for naps. When it got really hot outside, she would fly to my shoulder and come inside,” she said.

“She loved classical music, so I’d turn on the radio and she’d sit in front of the speaker and cuddle down, close her eyes and chirp softly to herself while the music was playing. She’d have a little nap, have something to eat and go flying again.”


Despite the bird’s comfort level around humans, it was always Ruby’s goal to prepare her patient for a full return to the wild.

“Part of me didn’t want her to go wild, but I knew it was the best thing. One day she took her beak and put it straight into the driveway gravel and picked it up slowly. She looked at me as if to say ‘I’ll be eating outside for now on.’ Two or three seconds later, she flew away and I didn’t see her for a week,” said Ewen.

Cinnamon Bun has since made several reappearances in Ewen’s yard. She lingers while Ewen gardens, and still walks across the grass to be at the feet of the woman who nursed her back to health.

“She still appears in the yard but she’s taken on more of a shyness. Often she’ll appear on top of the clothesline and perch there while I talk to her.”

During the lonely and isolating days of COVID-19, Ewen admits the robin’s cheerful and playful spirit was a much needed tonic.

“It took me far away from myself, took me totally out of myself and I was able to focus all of my attention and play mom,” said Ewen, with a wide smile and tears welling.

“It was so charming. It was like having a messenger from the heavens.”