Boxing day
Saturday July 24th 2010, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

I didn’t blog this a few days ago; I wanted to see if I would see it again.

I did. Its gait was just slightly funny and there’s still one feather a bit cock-eyed near the tip, but it clearly was doing okay, flying and eating like a good bird should.

I was sitting at my knitting perch earlier in the week when there was such a loud smash behind my head that I was sure that whatever that was, it could not have survived. There’s a certain time in the early evening when the floor-to-ceiling windows here mirror the trees too well; I tend to turn on the outside light hoping to cut down on the effect.

I went looking for it. It had to be on the ground.

It was. It was a finch on its back and I was sure it was dead. I went outside to look, and its feet were quivering, its beak opening and closing repeatedly in a way that to me, as a human, felt as if it were crying for its mama. I projected love at it as best as I humanly could, wishing I could offer comfort.

It didn’t need me making it more miserable, though, so I didn’t get very close. I went back inside, saying a prayer that whatever might be, it might not be in pain. Or too much, if I could at least ask that.

About a half hour later, I saw it was up on its feet and doing the bird version of breathing heavily, rocking slightly back and forth at birdspeed. A few back feathers looked bent askew, but she was up.  It was more than I’d hoped for.  I went out and carefully, not too close, rolled some sunflower seeds right to her.

She ignored them. Too soon.

About an hour later she was still there and I began to wonder if I should try to do something. The local wildlife rescue center is in walking distance. But she was having none of me, and tried to flutter away this time (I was glad she could–this was progress.)

Best leave her alone.

The effort seemed to have exhausted her, though. More time passed. It was dusk now, and she was still there on my patio and I didn’t want the neighbors’ cats to get her. I remembered something a birder friend had once taught me: I didn’t have a plastic laundry basket like she did, but I could riff on the idea.  I found a box that Costco sells pairs of gallons of milk in. I punched out the handleholds in the cardboard, enlarging one a bit. I put it down over the finch–the fact that she let me… Poor thing… with the larger opening right in front of her. Now she could fly or walk out when she wanted but she had shelter if she needed it.

It had been a long time since she’d eaten by then, so I slid some more sunflowers in there from underneath, on a piece of paper, in case she’d changed her mind.

And then I let her have her space and her own time.

It was darker in the box then out there past that gap. Maybe that was the motivation she needed to get back to the safety of the trees, hard as it had to have been to do.

After awhile, then, she flew.

Wonderful, too, is that I got to see what was clearly my finch back at my patio yesterday, eating food I’d set out for all.  Having cared about her personally, out of all the finches out there in the world, and for her, a part of her will always belong to me.

It was so good to see her flitting out and about again.

6 Comments so far
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I am glad you had this experience. These little things help keep up on track.

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 07.25.10 @ 8:12 am

Perhaps it takes an experience like that to remind us what is important on this planet.

Comment by Don Meyer 07.25.10 @ 10:07 am

Do you have decals or something for the windows, to make them look more solid? They make them for glass– I have them on my sun porch…it helps the birds to see the glass as a barrier and not something you can fly through.

Comment by RobinH 07.26.10 @ 6:30 am

A little Dolittle in your family tree?

Comment by Channon 07.27.10 @ 9:13 am

I had a similar experience with a chickadee in our front yard the other day – I think it somehow got hit by a car as it flew out from the path of the lawn mower. Hearing that your birdy survived gives me hope that mine did, too. I saw her hopping under the spruce, but never saw her fly, but am hopeful she eventually did.

Comment by twinsetellen 07.28.10 @ 7:24 pm

You did the right thing by putting her in a dark, quiet box. I used to work for a wildlife rescue group, and we were taught to pick up the birds, put them on half heat (a heating pad on low on half of the box), paper towels on the bottom (NO towels because claws can get caught), in a box with holes punched in it. Don’t leave the birds alone if they’re stunned because they’re perfect targets for cats. Leave them in the box (NO water)for at least an hour. We were taught how to check for broken wings, too.

If the bird is going to recover, and hour or two will be enough. Carefully look inside the box to see if the bird looks alert, and if so and it doesn’t look as if there are broken wings, take the box outside (cover on), open the lid gently to let the bird get acclimated. They should very gratefully fly away to freedom again.

Rest and quiet in a safe place is the best cure.

I’m so glad yours made it!

Comment by Mokihana 09.01.10 @ 4:09 pm

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