Thwud

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Thwud! I was watching the morning news when something hit the outside wall of the house, a few feet away from where I was sitting inside. What was that??? I jumped up to see. As I reached for the patio door handle, I saw my answer, lying flat on its back, just beyond the outside doormat. So small; so helpless. It was barely moving.

Thwud! I was watching the morning news when something hit the outside wall of the house, a few feet away from where I was sitting inside. What was that??? I jumped up to see. As I reached for the patio door handle, I saw my answer, lying flat on its back, just beyond the outside doormat. So small; so helpless. It was barely moving.

I’ve never felt so helpless in my life. I know nothing about saving birds except what I’ve read in fiction about a small boy finding a wounded bird, putting it in a shoebox and feeding it with an eyedropper to bring it back to life. But first things first: obviously this little guy lying flat on his back wouldn’t be able to fly away, so I did know one thing to do.

Gently I rolled him over onto his stomach, but what next? Getting a shoebox wouldn’t help; this guy didn’t need to be fed; he needed to regain consciousness and fly away. If my other half—who moved on to heaven years ago—were here, he would know exactly what to do. But he wasn’t here and think as hard as I could, I couldn’t guess what he would’ve said to do.

I watched for agonizing minutes. Had the bird been totally knocked out, never to recover? But his tail feathers were moving slowly, back and forth, back and forth. He was still alive. Feeling helpless and expecting the feathers to stop moving any minute, I waited and watched. The feathers kept moving—back and forth, back and forth.

Maybe it was the breeze gently moving them? No. Definitely not. Not a leaf was stirring on any of the patio bushes or neighbor’s trees. The feathers kept moving. I had to do something but I didn’t know what. Oh! My next-door neighbor saves turtles; I’d ask her. Maybe she’d know how to save him, too.

She didn’t—only turtles—but she gave me two numbers to call. Both went to voicemail. About then, my friend Lupe arrived to stay with Paul while I went to lunch with my Book Club friends. Oh, I forgot to mention, two lime-green feathers lay fanned out on the doormat, a foot away from the bird. They were much larger than the bird, but I thought they belonged to him because there was what looked like a bare spot above his tail feathers.

“There’s another bird here,” Lupe said. She pointed to the green feathers. “Really?” I asked. “I’m sure,” she said. “Look underneath them.” Sure enough, there was a tiny bird attached to the underside of the feathers. Dead. Completely dead.

Meanwhile the little gray bird had stood up. He still looked far from alive as he stood there.  Paul was dressing himself and needed help in the other room, so I left for a minute.

“He flew away!” Lupe called out. “What? He did?” “He flew away! Just now!”

I couldn’t believe it. I was sure he wouldn’t make it, let alone fly!

Saved by the little bird. I would never have forgiven myself if I hadn’t been able to save him. I gathered up the tiny green-feathered bird in a paper towel and carried him to a spot by the bushes, above the short retaining wall and buried him there.

My little garden statue of Mary stands watch over him now. Maybe his little gray friend will fly over now and then. I’ll be looking for him.