Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

morning bird rescue

Almost to work, flying down the hill, thinking about not much at all, I noticed a small greyish brownish lump in the road, in the opposite travel lane. I looked closely as I went by, unconsciously feathering my brakes. It was a bird, sitting up. I noted that there was no traffic but me at the moment, so I did a quick u-turn. Laying my bike down, I noticed a car come up behind me, but my focus was on the bird at this point, and the driver had clearly seen me. There was plenty of room for the car to get around me, but they didn’t. That they didn’t was perhaps due to their confusion (what IS that crazy girl doing laying her bike down in the middle of the road?) or perhaps to protect me from other traffic. Maybe they could see what I was doing and sympathized.

Regardless, they did not honk at me or roll down their window to yell at me. They just sat there, waiting.

I gently picked up the bird. Small enough that I could hold him or her in one hand, she was bigger than a starling and much bigger than a sparrow. I have no idea what kind of bird she was.

She didn’t try to move as I picked her up. She didn’t struggle as I held her in one hand, wrestling with my bike with the other.

She simply sat quietly in my hand as I dragged my bike to the side of the road. The few times wild animals have acted this way around me, they have been babies. I don’t know of any other explanation for her comfort and lack of panic or struggle while being handled by a human. From what I know of birds (not much, but a little), if she really was a baby, she was likely a fledgling. In the “out of nest and hopping on the ground but still reliant on the parents” stage, and she’d start calling to her parents at some point after she felt safe again, and they’d come take care of her.

Holding her in my hand, I checked her out. No blood, eyes open and alert. Breathing seemed normal. (What do I really know, anyway?) All legs and toes present. Essentially, she looked like nothing at all was wrong with her. Like maybe she decided to take a nap in the middle of the road, and was only just now starting to wake up. Or maybe she had been dazed by something, and was only partially conscious. In the woodsy area just to the side of the road, I decided to put her down where she had branches to perch on as well as leaves to hide under. She didn’t make any move to step out of my hand, so I set her down on a branch.

As soon as her feet touched the ground, she hopped under some protective branches, instinct perhaps finally taking over. She was mobile and she was safe. My job was done.

Riding my bike has given me a couple opportunities like this. Moving a turtle out of the road. Stopping traffic to herd geese to safety. This morning’s bird rescue.

It was with real satisfaction that I finished the last mile or so to work. I love my bike commutes, I love being on my bike. This is part of the reason, being part of the world, being in a situation where my travel style is flexible enough that I can help when needed.

Telling a coworker about my morning’s adventure, his face twisted up like he’d eaten something sour. “You picked up a bird?”


11 responses to “morning bird rescue

  1. Kelvin Kao June 2, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    You woke it up from its nap???!!!???!

    Hopefully the baby will learn where’s a safe place to sleep soon. =)

  2. Deb June 2, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    lol. I thought better that I wake it up, than the giant tires of an SUV! I looked around when I went by that spot on the way home, and didn’t see any sign of the baby, which I figure it a good sign!

  3. Gary June 2, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    I hope that one day we have a world in which we’re confident that anyone who sees a bird in imminent danger from us acts the way you did. Imagine that kind of world…

  4. b June 3, 2009 at 5:19 am

    I met an enormous snail on a bike path recently and stayed with it until it crossed the road. I got a lot of very strange looks, but it was so peaceful to just watch it crawl along. Since it was so large, it actually made good time too! Very cool Deb.

  5. Kristen June 3, 2009 at 9:04 am

    I like your comment Gary – My roommate and I stopped our car the other day for a very tiny baby turtle in the middle of the road, I’m actually surprised she saw it in time…I also scooped up a moth in perile at the train station the other day…it’s such an amazing feeling after rescuing an animal…love your blogs Deb!

  6. Nancy June 3, 2009 at 9:53 am

    I can empathize- when I went to walk my dogs in the park there was a baby skunk trembling in the fenced off pool area. The lifeguards were going to call animal control, I told them I would get him/her out. I walked up quietly and told the baby I was going to help. She remained quiet and I picked her up in a towel. I walked her over to some wooded area where the mother was anxiously waiting. The mother looked right at me as I deposited the baby near her who promptly ran over to her. The baby turned around and looked at me as I walked away.
    These encounters with other species are worth all the dirty looks and snide remarks. I savor these moments and wonder who rescued whom – a fish stuck in a pondwhom I still visit, a starling my dog found and helped nurse back to health and a groundhog who now resides in my yard whom I have name Rowena-Agatha

  7. pitbull friend June 3, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Deb, that is lovely! So glad you were there to help.

    Several years ago, I was in the smoke break area at work (yes, there were some advantages to smoking!) and I saw a dragonfly on its back, unable to right itself. I slid my ID card under it gently & flipped it over. Before it flew off, it did a full circle around me. Heaven knows the thought processes of dragonflies, but it felt magical, like it was thanking me for the help. A fairy tale moment.

  8. Deb June 4, 2009 at 5:05 am

    @Gary – I hope that a world like that exists someday…

    @b – that’s awesome about the turtle! so nice when we can do something positive for the animals right in front of us. Veganism is, sometimes, abstract in that way. That’s why I love working at the sanctuary as well, moves the issues from abstract to right in front of me.

    @Kristen – I agree, the feeling from rescuing is like no other! 🙂

    @Nancy – that is such a cool story! I admit I’m surprised that the momma skunk let you approach so closely, but the mother’s instinct is so strong it overrides a lot of their safety instincts. Or maybe she just knew you weren’t a threat.

    Awesome to hear everyone’s rescue stories!

  9. nothoney June 5, 2009 at 9:06 am

    I think of you as “somebody,” as in “I don’t have to stop for that bird because _somebody_ will come along.”

    Well done.


  10. Amanda June 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Hi – this weekend I saw a snapping turtle in the middle of a country road, just meandering around. I too pulled over and got out to shoo it onto the grass of someone’s lawn, rather than having it lumber along until someone hit it with their car. I wanted to pick it up to move it quickly but it was very large – a full grown adult I imagine – and had quite the set of claws and a whippy tail so I was too nervous to touch it. They move quite quickly, so it was only a moment or so until it reached safety, but it was a moment very well spent. Sadly, however, it didn’t do any of those ‘feel good’ things as I left. It just cast me a disdainful look as if to say ‘Yeah, I was getting there just fine, thank you!’ LOL

  11. Deb June 15, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    @nothoney – funny!

    @Amanda – wow, i wouldn’t have wanted to get my fingers or toes too close to a snapping turtle either! Good for you for making sure he reached safety anyway. That’s probably the best – the least interference possible, while still guarding their path.

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