Workers find, become attached to bird

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
A common nighthawk guarded two eggs in the parking lot at St. Thomas Medical Center in Jasper last Friday. For a couple of weeks, employees at the center had been doing their best to protect the bird while it guarded its eggs, but they haven’t seen the bird since it rained Monday evening.

Editor's Note: Because of incorrect information received, the bird being watched and cared for by staff at St. Thomas Medical Center in Jasper was incorrectly identified. The bird is a common nighthawk, a species that is native to Dubois County.

Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — A beautiful bird has taught workers at a medical center a little about nature and a lot about the human instinct of protection.

For two and a half weeks, workers at the St. Thomas Medical Center joined together to protect the bird, which laid eggs in the rock and asphalt near the front of Dr. Daniel Eby’s office.

“She was here nonstop, sitting on her eggs,” Jane Farmer, practice manager at Eby’s office, said this morning. “The only time she left was to get food, but she came right back. She took care of her eggs, like any good mother would.”

Farmer noticed the bird at the beginning of month, while she was out taking pictures of some of the landscaping. “The bird flew out and toward me. She startled me, she was so close,” Farmer said. “I jumped back and then saw these two beautiful brown speckled eggs.”

The eggs were on the rocks and asphalt. And as soon as Farmer backed up, the bird returned and sat back on the eggs. That’s when Farmer got a good look at her.

“She had a chameleon effect, in that she blended in with the landscaping stones,” she said.

Now that she knew what the bird looked like, Farmer realized that she could see her from her office window. So she kept an eye on her. “It was hard to not turn my head and watch her,” she said.
“She was so beautiful.”

Farmer quickly became attached to the bird and, thus, concerned for her and the eggs’ welfare. “I was afraid something would happen to them because she did blend in,” she said.

Word traveled throughout the building, from Eby’s office to the Memorial Hospital Surgery Center downstairs.

Workers at the medical center named the beautiful bird Roxanne, “because she was sitting in the rocks and the eggs looked so much like the rocks,” Farmer said.

A surgery center staff member put out a snack cracker and a bottlecap filled with water for the bird to eat and drink. To protect the Roxanne and her upcoming family from the harm of cars on the parking lot, Eby parked a truck in the first parking space to keep people from coming too close to the bird.

“There was an emotional attachment to her,” Farmer said. “People were always asking, ”˜How is Roxanne today?’”

The report changed to a somber one this week, after Monday’s rainstorm. Roxanne was last seen before the rain. She hasn’t returned since.

“We’re in mourning,” Farmer said. “Once you establish a connection, you have that point of interest. It is part of nature. Everyone knows that she’s gone.”

The truck is still in place, protecting the eggs. And Farmer still watches, looking out for the eggs and hoping that Roxanne will return.

“I’m losing hope day by day,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to them. Without a mother, I’m not sure if they can hatch and thrive.”

Contact Candy Neal at

More on