Thursday, December 1, 2011

As I Sit... in my chair, looking on as I watch the birds at my feeder while listening to music, I can now reflect on what happened yesterday. Around 1:30 P.M. or 2 P.M., I noticed a bird fluffed up on the ground by a window near my feeder. I recognized it as a White-breasted Nuthatch. A fairly rare bird at my feeder, usually getting a peanut (favorite) or sunflower seed. I didn't know quite what was wrong with it for a while. It being fluffed up and cold outside, I figured maybe it was just cold and resting. But it was in the shade. I went outside to see what was wrong, thinking it would probably fly away if I got close, like most birds do. It wasn't very responsive and not moving much, other than its left wing, apparently to try to fly away or just to open its wings to hop in my hand. I put it in a small box with a cloth on the bottom. Much of the time it had its head nestled into the feathers on the left side of its back with its head almost completely buried into the feathers. When I saw its head back in a normal position and slightly opening its bill, I decided to try to take it outside on my feeder to see if it would fly off or eat. But it just sat. I tried to feed it a small piece of a peanut, but nothing. I then put it on a branch. It was looking at me... It was definitely looking at me... It clung on for a bit, barely able to perch. Eventually, I noticed some redness in its mouth. It shook its head later while I was holding it and when I saw the blood on my hand I knew something was very wrong here, and serious. That was apparently why it was opening its bill so much. I knew then that it had definitely had a window collision. After sitting on the branch, it swung upside-down uncontrollably, which I thought was the saddest and most pitiful thing. I took him off the branch while upside-down before it fell, and afterwards that's when I saw the blood and got it on me. I put him back in the box and called Walden's Puddle, a wildlife rehabilitator. In the box it mostly continued to bury its head in its back left feathers. I got a call back and set up an appointment. I rushed to get ready to leave. I went in to check on the bird. It's head was now in a new location. It's head was now out from the back of his feathers and tilted to the right with it's bill resting on the cloth surrounded by blood. It had moved to its final position. It was now resting. It was a rest that it would never wake up from. It was shocking and painful. I cried afterwards and am crying again after writing the ending to this sad story.

I buried it the next morning. Later that morning as I was walking around outside, reflecting on the bird and all that had happened, you'll never believe the sound I heard. It was the sound of a White-breasted Nuthatch, a sound I didn't think I would hear for a while around here because I didn't know how many were around. Perhaps it was its mate, perhaps a relative or offspring, or perhaps no relation. But it was a reassuring sound to hear. It made me think that life somehow continues to go on. I guess just because it's the end of one doesn't mean it's the end for all. It's not the first nuthatch to die and it won't be the last, unfortunately.

Death still saddens and puzzles me, and I think it always will... I've watched animals' deaths more times than I'd like over the past year and it always makes me wonder... what will my time be like... who will be on the other side watching me and my death like I've watched others' so many times before... when will I become just a memory, too...

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