There was about 20,000 steps under our belt Sunday afternoon as we went trail-hopping. It was a long day, but I’ve walked worse. When the path veered across a bridge and then faded into the grass, we weren’t sure where to go. At some point, someone made their own path, and you could see–carved into the grass–a faint trail. We followed it only to discover it went nowhere for awhile. We tried to cross the river but twice we failed. On our way back we noticed something sitting on the trail we hadn’t before: a bird.
I didn’t notice the bird right away. He was fluffed into himself like a fat little ball of feathers. His feathers, however, looked worn and a bit oily. We knew immediately something was wrong. The bird must have heard us talking because he slowly opened his eyes, and I could finally see his face. Slowly, he lifted his head up to us and opened his beak. No noise came out, and it made his suffering seem that much worse. I had to look away.
I thought back to the baby bird who fell from its nest when I was a kid. I was riding my bike around my house, and on about the seventh time around I noticed something a few feet from the track I had been digging into the yard with my back tire. It was yellow and very small. It was probably only a few days old.
He chirped up at me, when I approached him, and flinched as I squatted down to get a closer look. His wing looked broken. I imagined some stray cat had been using it as a toy before I noticed him there. I ran inside and found a cardboard shoe box and some napkins and told my parents about what I saw. My mom and dad came out with me, and my dad picked up the bird as gently as he could with the napkins, placing the small thing into the makeshift bed. “We’ve got to get this thing to the vet,” he said. “If it fell out of its nest, the mom won’t take care of it anymore.”
“Mamma, would you take care of me if I fell?” I asked.
“Of course, baby,” she said.
We took that bird to the vet that day, and they did what they could to nurse him back to health. I remember talks of sending him to the rescue/preservation shelter a few blocks away.
When we saw that bird on the trail, all I could think about was how much I couldn’t save this one, and how far gone he probably already was. I kind of felt like him, for a moment, yelling into the wind but with no real ability to be heard, desperate to do something.