A couple of days ago, I was IMing with a friend who wrote:
saw a fledgling bird fall into the rush hour street downtown. a car blew over it at about 40mph
ran into the street and picked it up
it looked at me and died
The same day, Paul was having a similar experience:
Yesterday I headed into the parking garage to get our car. Our parking garage, it must be noted, is a large five-story structure that is typical of any modern parking garage with ramps, elevators, and stairs. I walked up to the 3rd floor, where our car was parked, and was stunned and surprised to see a bird try to follow me as I opened the door. But he missed.
I closed the door and watched this bird dart off in the opposite direction, directly toward a large pane of glass that looked out to the pedway below. He smacked it a little, but not too hard, and jumped down to the ground. He was clearly stunned by this glass thing. I stood by the door on the opposite end of the floor and watched him try a few more times to get through the glass. He put less effort into it each time.
My first thought was, “Maybe I can pick him up and get him outside.” I walked slowly across the cold, grey concrete and started making a tuck-tuck-tuck noise with my mouth. It’s the default bird noise in my head, one that I remember my mom and dad using with our parakeets and cockatiels growing up. But the bird had none of it. He hopped up to the railing a few inches off the ground, and tried to hop outside through the glass again to no avail.
As he sat there on the ground looking around, I started in slowly. I crouched down and cautiously extended my right arm when he took off. He flew up to the next landing but was once again befuddled by glass. He hit the glass once again and sat on the ground. I slowly walked up the stairs to the landing, and this time chose to whistle softly and quietly. I crouched down and got a good look at him. I wasn’t sure what type of bird he was, but he was clearly a baby. He was grey and white with a tinge of brown in his feathers. Amazingly while I was whistling his eyes started to close. I knew this was my opportunity. I once again slowly extended my right arm, and started to reach him from behind.
But it was to no avail. He sensed me and instinctively got the hell out of there. He flew up and to my right and, after tapping glass again, sat on a ledge in front of the glass. He was looking through the glass, trying to make sense of it all. He was breathing with his beak open and his breath was actually fogging up the glass. He was really tired.
I thought, “Well, if I open the door to the 4th floor he’ll be in the parking area – which does have open ledges without glass.” I walked slowly upstairs and whistled again, this time opening the door that was next to his ledge slowly. But he caught sight of the door opening and it spooked him.
He flew in the opposite direction again towards the pane of glass. His little body catapulted through the air, and when it hit the glass full force, made a dreadful and dead sound. I gasped as I let go of the door handle. His body fell to the concrete and bounced a bit before settling. I walked over as fast as I could and looked at him. I suspected deep down that the impact would be too much for him. His head was moving about in an uncomfortable motion – clearly not something his neck was supposed to do. He breathed heavily and didn’t make a sound. I picked him up carefully and opened the door to the parking floor.
I walked to the nearest ledge and set him down. I thought that maybe, if he was still able, he could fly away. But it wasn’t to be. I petted the feathers on the back of his neck, and his body, and he stopped breathing. He closed his eyes and like that, he was gone. I felt my eyes water up a bit, and visions of life and death passed through my head. Who knows how old this bird was? How long he lived, and what he did?
I thought of taking him down to the ground floor and burying him, but I chose not to do so. Instead I left him there. Today on the way into the building, I looked up to the 4th floor out of respect for a fallen friend.
Maybe I just associate with more-compassionate-than-most people, but acts like these remind me that humanity’s not a lost cause.