Little Wing, revisited

Posted: August 16, 2014 in Coffee Break Entertainment
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jimi hendrix voodoo childThis afternoon, I was sitting downstairs at my usual spot-the dining room table overlooking our backyard-when I suddenly heard a loud crash upstairs. It sounded as if someone fell out of a passing airplane and tried to break their fall by grabbing our gutter. Hey, it could happen –the airport is only a few minutes away and, if someone’s going to fall out of one it’d probably happen sooner rather than later, right?
Anyway, almost immediately I saw something drop to the ground just outside the sliding glass door. Then I saw Sophie, our terribly bored doggie who’s been healing from an injured paw-enough for the past ten days drag her drowsy self up from the cool grass and walk cautiously toward the door, her nose up as she sniffed the air. For a dog literally scraping for things to do, this must’ve been a bonanza for her.
I realized then that it must’ve been a bird that hit the window before falling like a wet washrag, straight to the ground. Carefully, I slid the glass doors curtain aside to peek out at the scene; I wasn’t sure what I’d find. Would it be okay? Would it be injured? Would it be so angry that my house got in its way that it would lunge at my face and try to peck out my eyes? Thoughts of Ozzy Osbourne quickly crossed my mind, then flitted away just as fast.
Sure enough, there was a little bird lying there. Sophie cautiously tiptoed toward the bird as if walking through a minefield. She stood as far from the bird as possible while still being able to effectively point-and wiggle-her wet little nose at it. “Poor little guy,” I thought, “what can I do to help him?”
I remembered the popularity birdbaths enjoyed in the neighborhood in which I grew up – keep in mind, it was during the ‘70s – so the first thing I thought of was to get him a little water. So I ran to the garage and grabbed a large plastic lid from the recycle bin. I filled it up with water, and set it outside right next to the bird. If reusing is recycling, I figured this one couldn’t have been reused for a better purpose.
Not to sound heartless, but little did I know then I was about to learn more about birds than I’d ever care to know. And even though I didn’t really know what to do at the time, I figured a little water could never hurt any injured animal. If I were an injured animal, I reasoned, it certainly wouldn’t hurt me to have a swig or two. But I was at a loss as to what to do next. “I know,” I thought, “I’ll Google it and find out – I can’t be the only person who found himself in this position.”
As it happened, I was right; page after bloody page of responses came up on my laptop’s screen. So I selected the first one on the list, and the detailed education I was about to get on injured birds began. Long story short, I had been on the right track in offering it water. The only other recommendation that caught my eye suggested I “keep the injured bird in a safe place, away from any animals that might eat it.” Well, despite Sophie’s seemingly limitless appetite for mice and rabbits, this unfortunate little bird didn’t seem to be on her menu, at least not today.
I then got up and peeked out the window again. When I first saw it the bird moments earlier, it just sat there looking stunned, and I vaguely saw in it an image of myself, late on a Friday night during my freshman year of college. The bird looked fine, except for its right-wing, which extended outward, as if still in flight.
Now, however, the birds beak was wide open, as if it was winded, and trying hard to catch its breath. It made sense, I guess-I’d probably feel the same way if I flew full speed into a window. This time, however, the bird had moved over to the lid where it had clearly been drinking the water. Even more encouraging was that the bird seemed to have been gathering its wits a little. It had shut its beak and was looking around, blinking now and then. It had its bell rung, all right, and was just trying hard to recover. I’ve been there myself, and I know the feeling.
By this time, the bird had been there for about an hour or so. Google indicated that I should give the bird anywhere from a couple minutes to a couple of hours to regain its sense of-I don’t know what to call it- Birdieness, maybe? As if it, too, had read the Google posting, the bird seemed to be getting better by the minute, although it seemed a little embarrassed.
But after the bird moved an inch or two away from where it had hit, the moist, little white puddle it left behind made it obvious that the impact had knocked the poop right out of it. That feeling, I’m sure, could not be a good one. I imagine it’s hard for any animal, wild bird or otherwise, to maintain some sense of dignity after something like that happens, even if it was for a good reason. There’s simply no way it could keep an “I’m okay, everything’s cool” attitude before proudly flying off once again.
So, I gave it a little privacy for the next hour or so, and when I looked again an hour later, it was gone. I suppose that, other than a splitting headache, things could’ve been worse for it.
Anyway, that’s my good deed for the day. And, though I didn’t help this little bird with the expectation of anything in return, I nonetheless hope it will only visit my yard from now only to peck at worms and to sing happy little songs.

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