We know your wildly ways
Saturday June 19th 2010, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Stitch by stitch, row by row.

The tail on that young one at the beginning of the week (the other pictures were taken day by day afterwards, but I think the last one’s a parent) caught my attention: it was a fledgling’s version of a sunfish, as if Nature had forgotten to finish the job.

And yet, it works; the thing flew.

Even better, it came back.

And there was this, and I write it with a sense yet again of gratitude to the many on staff at Stanford Hospital and my clinic last year: when I got up yesterday morning, there was a small female finch on the other side of the glass, holding very still in a manner that immediately concerned me. A friend who is a birder has assured me that if you give it a half hour or so to recuperate, one that has struck the window will often be able to pull itself together and fly away.

But I wasn’t sure she was still with us. I got down to get a closer look. We were perhaps two feet from each other, with only the glass that she had just learned about in between.

She slowly blinked. I was so relieved. You know, my pride was wanting to argue with fate and say, hey, I didn’t wash the windows so the birds wouldn’t see their reflections so much and and and–yeah.

The best thing to do, since she was alive, seemed to be to give her some space, then. After what seemed a very long time of looking in each other’s eyes, I slowly, slowly, trying not to be threatening, backed away and moved up and over to the day’s work, about ten feet further away.

I glanced over about five minutes later. She had not only perked up, she had hopped up to the outside of the sliding glass door and was perched there, watching me intently.

I was utterly charmed.

I had looked after her the best I knew how, as ineffectual as I had felt doing so. Even offering her food would have scared her into flying before she was ready; all I had been able to offer her was that she was not alone.

And now she was looking at me.  She was okay now.  Waiting for me to see, then making eye contact.

Powerful, that.

8 Comments so far
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It’s wonderful when they recover. None have flown into my windows this season (that I know of). I’ve kept a tiger-striped umbrella open in the sun porch and I wonder if that’s acted like an indoor scare crow of sorts. One thing I’ve learned from past experience is when I do hear a thud, immediately lock up the cat, and if the cat is outside, grab a spray bottle of water.

Comment by LynnM 06.20.10 @ 12:44 am

Beautiful! Reminds me somehow of Frost’s “Two Look at Two.” Sometimes, we just have to be still and let them share our space.

Comment by Channon 06.20.10 @ 7:36 am

for some reason, the first thing that came to my mind when I read this post was the verse that says “be still, and know that I am God”

which lead me to read the whole 46th Psalm this morning — reminding me that we are not alone

thank you

Comment by Bev 06.20.10 @ 8:10 am

beautiful moment. Thanks for sharing it.

Comment by Lene 06.20.10 @ 8:36 am


This was lovely and I was charmed too. Not only by the birdie but by your patience and caring. Not everyone has the gift of both. With your patience you may have saved her life as you said by not scaring her into flying off too soon.

Nicely done, Alison, and beautifly written.

Comment by Mary 06.20.10 @ 9:47 am

This is very powerful. Thank you. Sometimes just be there, but far enough is the best thing we can do for our kids. It is also one of the hardest things.

Comment by Henya 06.20.10 @ 1:50 pm

Making eye contact with a bird — especially a wild one — can be a very powerful experience.

Fun –

BRITTANY (age 4) had an ear ache and wanted a pain killer.. She tried in vain to take the lid off the bottle. Seeing her frustration, her Mom explained it was a child-proof cap and she’d have to open it for her. Eyes wide with wonder, the little girl asked: ‘How does it know it’s me?’

Comment by Don Meyer 06.20.10 @ 7:19 pm

Thank you for sharing this with me. I was in the process of looking up something else and came across your post. I appreciate your writing this because we have a large bay window in our living room and I watch the birds and everything else going on outside. I have seen many a bird crash into that window and I try to always check on them, never daring to go out and touch them. I feel relieved that they eventually fly away. Have a wonderful day. -sandy

Comment by Sandy Standridge 05.17.11 @ 7:11 am

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