Monday, October 13, 2008

The Last Flight

Yesterday my husband came home and said that there was a potential animal rescue situation outside. I went out to find a small bird in the middle of the street. I think it was an adolescent. It was clearly injured but I couldn't tell quite how much or how. I got close, and to my surprise, the bird flew away - but not far. I couldn't tell the sex. The little thing flew as high as the house across the street, and then crashed into it and fell down into the flower bed.

I could see that the bird was scared, and not well, so I gently cupped it in my hands. I could feel the warm, fast heartbeat against my thumb, and once I held it, I could see a very serious neck wound, as well as what appeared to be a wound on a wing, and a protrusion that seemed abnormal from one side of the face. There was dried blood on the beak, and the eye I could see had some discharge. Clearly, the bird was in pain. We went as quickly as possible to Westvet, which has a nice program to help wild birds and get them to rehabilitation when possible.

The journey, as all emergency journeys to Westvet, seemed to take forever. The bird was still except for one attempt to fly again. I thought that based on the severity of the wounds the bird would likely get put down. What I could see of the neck wound was gaping and horrific. I saw the new feathers coming in - either for the first time, or due to a molt, I don't know, but there were many small light brown new feathers. I watched the delicate legs rest in my hand and the tiny talons with tiny fingernails. I was rooting for the little thing, but at the same time, aware that I was probably sharing the last moments of its life, and still hoping that wasn't the case.

I don't want any animal to be in pain, and alone and scared. Although birds are not my favorite animals, the chickens have given me a new appreciation for them. I didn't know what happened to this little thing, I think a cat would have roughed it up worse, and the hole in it's neck was deep, not like a bite wound I've seen before. No one will ever know.

I called after a few hours and learned that the little bird did get put down. I am glad that the suffering ended, and glad I could help so the bird didn't spend a night in the cold, waiting to die. Still, I never cross paths with an animal that doesn't make it without feeling sad. Yesterday morning that little bird was alive with a life ahead of it and this morning it was gone. I can't help but reflect a bit and be glad that I am still here, and that all my animal kids are still here. I wish I could have been of comfort to the bird, but I'm sure it was frightened - it did relax a bit, and I hope the end was peaceful and fast.


Roe said...

Sounds to me like the little bird came off worse in a fight with a small falcon. Falcons are the nicest of natures bird killers, they bite the bird on the neck killing the bird by severing the vertebra.

Esmae said...

Thanks for the info, that sounds like a viable theory and is good to know.