Once upon a time, a man named Mauro was walking past the sun-baked Perugian steps when suddenly, a swallow fell from the sky.
“Mamma mia!” he exclaimed.
Umbrina, as she came to be called, was a baby swallow on her first outing from the nest that her swallow family built in a crevice of the soaring duomo, overlooking Piazza IV Novembre. Hoping she would take flight, Mauro gingerly placed his new friend on a high ledge of the duomo.
When he returned to work at the Umbra Institute, he told his colleague, Addy, the tale of the swallow. Neither could clear their minds of the swallow’s fate in the humid 99-degree-Fahrenheit weather, so the two trekked back to the scene of the fall.
Umbrina had not moved a feather, but still she lived. Armed with a cardboard box, damp paper towels, and an ensnared insect, Mauro and Addy carefully carried their weak charge back to the Institute. While neither was well-versed in baby bird urgent care, a full-immersion Umbra student and part-time ornithologist named Roz had overheard their earlier conversation. After a quick look at Umbrina, Roz instructed the staff members to quickly feed and keep the bird warm in the air-conditioned Institute.
The rescue team utilized a pencil tip and quick reflexes to feed the bug to the baby bird. For the rest of the afternoon, Umbrina rested comfortably in her cushioned container, where she received many anxious Umbra visitors. At the end of the day, Italian professor Giuliano and Valentina (former Italian professor at Umbra and now visiting friend) transported Umbra’s temporary mascot to ENPA (Ente Nazionale Protezione Animali, an animal protection agency), where she lives to swoop another day, thanks to collaboration among Umbra faculty, staff, and student.