A Bird Brain, Sometimes I Wish I Had One
I found myself on the highway and caught in traffic, four lanes backed up to a slow crawl, people looking impatient, cell phones to ears, texting fingers swiftly typing out the anger of being stuck behind what seemed like 5,000 cars. I glanced at my watch; I was going to be late for my appointment. I grabbed my cell phone and found the number of the office I needed to call to let them know I was going to be late. I fell into the same miserable pattern as the rest of the impatient, miserable people on that road. I got an automated attendant when the phone was answered, as a polite voice said in her computer voice, "Thank you for calling. We are not able to answer the phone at this time, however you may leave a message at the tone and we will return your call as soon as possible". After the tone I sighed, said who I was and that I would be late etc.
The traffic moved so slow I could have walked faster and gotten to my destination before those other drivers got off their cell phones. I took a deep breath and realized there wasn't a darn thing I could do about the situation. Traffic moved a tad, and I found myself in view of one of the tall oversized street lamps that was next to the highway. Because we as intelligent beings have managed to all but eliminate the natural habitat of the osprey, most of the light poles around here have harsh cold metal platforms on top of them...artificial tree perches for the ospreys to build a nest. The ospreys here in my part of the world are just starting to fledge and on the top of the pole I could see the youngster standing on the very edge of the nest, holding his wings halfway open, scanning the horizon, debating if he was ready to fly. Every once in awhile he would jump a tiny bit and flap above the nest, practicing for that magic moment that would happen soon. The parent was up in the sky, circling and waiting for her chick to take that leap into the air and join her in the sky. I could see the traffic was moving just past the next pole so I knew the end of this patience challenging event was almost over. As we got closer I saw several police cars with their lights on and traffic cones blocking part of the lane... it made my heart sink. I hate coming across an accident, especially on a highway. Just a few cars away I could see a man getting up from the ground holding a blanked wrapped around something small as he approached a truck. I felt sick to my stomach, what was he carrying? What had happened? At the same time my mind processed the fact that the truck the man was going to was not an ambulance or a fire truck, it was a plain white pickup truck with some sort of company logo on the side. As the man got closer to the truck he knelt down and readjusted the blanket, uncovering what had been hidden. By now I was quite close and my heart was racing. Another man stepped out and had us stop. The blanket was lifted and two men came closer and knelt down. On the blanket was an osprey. He had already been blind folded to try and stave off the shock that could kill the bird quickly. The two men quickly examined the bird. I could see him trying to flap his wings but he was quickly held so he wouldn't hurt himself. The men and the others stood their smiling with huge looks of relief on their faces. I glanced behind the men and realized they were right next to one of those light poles with an osprey nest at the top. The bundled up bird had to be a chick, he must have fallen or misjudged when he took his first flight attempt. There was a car in front of the trucks, and as we passed it I could see a young lady in the seat, with red eyes and tears flowing. One of the men knelt beside her door and looked like he was reassuring her, his hand on the window frame, his face gentle and caring. Her agonized look turned to gratefulness as she nodded and tried to smile. She put her hand over his and squeezed it. That was the last thing I saw in my rear view mirror as the traffic began to move again. I thought about that bird for days, and still often reflect on it. In the paper the next day there was a tiny story about the traffic back up. It mentioned that a lady had been driving and out of nowhere a bird that was acting funny and flapping like crazy, slid across her hood. She pulled over and found the injured bird on the edge of the road, so she called the rescue patrol and they sent out the animal control folks. The article didn’t' mention the fact that the bird had managed to touch the hearts of nearly every person that drove by. It didn’t' mention the fact that if the nest had been in a stand of trees when the bird fell the chances are he would have had a much better chance of just shaking it off and trying again. It didn’t' mention that the men that took care of the bird were very careful and patient, both with the bird and the lady. I put the newspaper down and looked out my window at the bird feeder in my own back yard. The pair of cardinals that had become regulars was twittering as they cautiously took seeds and flittered away to the tree, repeating the action over and over. I find myself sitting there watching them some days for a long time, noting the perfection and beauty of this little pair of birds. I now watch with a different perspective. If the land hadn't been cleared to build my neighborhood this little pair wouldn't need to be fed bird seed from a plastic feeder. And so I came away from this experience with a new appreciation for nature, and a new sadness for what intelligence and ignorance has done to the perfect specimens that nature allows us to live with. Sometimes I think we forget to just appreciate what we have instead of constantly looking for a way to change it or make it better in our eyes.
The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing. ~Eric Berne