A Day for the Birds

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Today started out normally enough. Most of my morning routine passed uneventfully, and I was sitting on the love seat in the living room surfing for something or other when my whole day changed.

I heard a loud “thwack” on the living room window and looked up in time to see a bird-projectile and feathers flying. Oh no! I leaped up and looked and, sure enough, there was a small bird, huffing and puffing — it probably had the wind knocked out of it, poor thing. It was sitting on the ground in the snow-shadow of one of the cedar trees outside our house.

This isn’t the first time this happened. In summer, a gorgeous Evening Grosbeak crashed into the window and laid in a similar spot for a few hours. I didn’t know what to do. It was belly up, so I cautiously reached over and flipped it over. I wondered if I should try and put it in a box to help it recover, or just let it heal on its own? I checked on it several times and it seemed to be doing ok. Still breathing, not twitching terribly, but not exactly ready to fly away. I was working in my garden in the back yard that afternoon, and after 3-4 hours of me checking on it, Darren said “bad news, Teresa.”

“Oh, no! Did it die?”

“Worse. A cat got it.”

Oh no, oh noooooo! I felt horrible. There were grey, black and yellow feathers spread out on the front lawn like a crime scene. Oh, man, did I feel bad. I think I cried! Poor bird, recovering slowly, and a cat came along for an easy meal. *Note, it was definitely not my cat, as he doesn’t go out in the front yard.*

So today, when that little bird was sitting there, after 30 seconds or so of staring through the window and wondering what to do, I sprung into action. This little one, a female Pine Grosbeak (my bird book said), was not going to be eaten by any cats.

So, I figured I needed a box. A shoebox would be great, and Darren got new shoes recently, so new, empty boxes were easy to find. I quickly put a bit of toilet paper in the bottom as cushioning. Then it occurred to me — I can’t bring it inside! A bird in a box in a house with a cat?!? This was not a good plan. Put it in the car, perhaps? Keep the car running so it wouldn’t be -13°C? Not a good plan either. The outdoor storage room, with a trouble light on for a little heat? Not bad… but not enough warmth. A heat lamp? Ah, yes, but where is it? No time to look. Then I had the best idea yet – I quickly grabbed some cloth, put a pile of wheat in the middle — I have wheat to make therapeutic wheat bags with — wrapped it up and threw it into the microwave to warm it. I had to work fast! That bird was in shock and it was cold out!

I got it all ready, put it in the outdoor storage room, and walked quietly over to where the bird was. I reached between the hedge and the house, my arm fully stretched out, gently picked up the bird, cradled it in both hands while I walked over to put it in the box. It didn’t struggle at all. It could feel the warmth, I think, when I put it in the box.

I checked on it a minute later, and put the box lid almost all the way on, to keep the warmth in. At least it was out of the snow and wind.

I checked on it a little while later, and it had moved! It had pulled its wings in more — I wasn’t sure if they were broken or not — and it turned its head to look at me! Yay!

I checked on it a little while later, and it was dead. Tipped over on its side, dead. Oh, dear. I felt bad, but I had known that there was a good chance it would die; it probably had internal injuries. I felt okay, though. At least it hadn’t been eaten by a cat or frozen to death. Either one of those would be worse, I think.

I don’t like to interfere in nature too much, but on the other hand, when I can help, I just have to. I felt so much better after setting up my little incubator! I had done something — taken action to safe a life! The fact that that sweet little bird died anyway doesn’t bother me… I think I alleviated its suffering a little, and in a way, it didn’t die alone.

I wonder if its partner is looking for it? My bird book doesn’t say much about them, like if they mate for life. There are a flock of them in our neighbourhood, and the other day I walked right beside/under them in one of our trees and they weren’t afraid. They have a gentle, quiet song.

She's looking right at me! 🙂

This doesn’t end the “bird day” I had today though! About an hour after the bird died, I went to see Darren in his office and there was a large, round bird on the snow outside the window! It was so cool! It had fuzzy feet, and was standing on one foot at a time to keep the other warm. It walked a little around the trees and shrubs, and then went “snowshoeing” across the front yard towards the driveway. We got several great pictures of it and its friend-bird, which were walking around on our driveway and even down the sidewalk.

These two (my bird book tells me) female Spruce Grouse just absolutely made my day! They reminded me of the abundance of life. Death is nothing to fear. Come to think of it, Rev. Patrick talked a lot about death on the podcast I listened to this morning (before all this happened). Co-incidence? Perhaps not.

Celebrate life today — go out and find some birds!

Snowshoeing across the yard
Aren't they handsome? Check out those feet!
Isn't she beautiful?

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