Someone just came to my front door carrying a bird; she found it on the street in front of my house under the front tire of a pickup truck that had parked there. I’m not sure what she expected me to do with it; I took it to the backyard. It held on to my fingers tightly with its little feet; when I examined it to see if it had any obvious injuries it latched on to my finger with its beak and bit me!
I set it down in the shade, but it won’t go anywhere — just sits there breathing rather heavily. I don’t know if it was hurt badly by the truck. I do know that I don’t want it to die in my backyard. I’m one of those sentimental animal loving nuts, you know.
It’s 11:30 now. I’ll check up on it in a few hours.
Update, 1:50pm: I took a look out back, and didn’t see the bird — but then saw that it had moved into the plants surrounding my yard. It was covered with ants. I carefully scooped it up, brushing off the ants. The bird has far less energy now than it did before, it looked at me but didn’t make any moves; it lowered its head slowly down to rest in my hand. I moved it away from the edge of the yard and set it down under the orange tree. I now realize that I am sadly waiting for it to die, reason unknown. Was it actually hit by the truck? Does it have internal injuries that are not evident? I have researched “what to do when you find an animal” but I think that it is pointless to put the bird in a box and drive it across the valley to the wildlife rescue shelter — nature really sucks. Animals die every day, in horrible ways; this is the reason I couldn’t watch “Planet Earth”. The reality and harshness of life is so easy to dismiss when one is at the top of the food chain.
The bird is going to die, that much is obvious. Now I find myself wishing I could do something to make it easier; but in fact the least stressful thing I could do for it is to stop going out there and checking on it.
When this is over, do I simply toss the remains in the garbage, or do I bury it?
This will not be a good day.
Update, 2:30pm: The bird has died. It was sometime in the last hour. The death of animals bewilders me, the bird looked like it had coughed up some internal organ which was distressing; the ants had also found it again and there was some kind of small dark worm and a tiny slug on it. Death is obviously a quick process in the bird world; and the scavengers appear immediately — probably before death itself.
I am a sentimental person when it comes to animals, and I feel horrible that this bird died at my house, under my gaze; that my encouraging murmurs didn’t help it. I decided to bury it in my backyard, at the edge of the flower bed under the birch trees where its brothers and sisters play all day. (I found myself worried about this too; even though it was obviously dead, I kept worrying that it wasn’t and that I was doing something horrible by burying it alive.) As if that wasn’t sentimental enough, I buried with it a short note describing what happened along with the above photo, wrapped in plastic. Some day someone will dig in the backyard to plant something, and they’ll learn this tiny story of life and death on May 9, 2007.