Monday, May 21, 2007

Post #921

Today was likely my last FLAP patrol until the fall migration. There was only one bird today. I nearly missed it because it was sitting so far away from the gleaming building it had struck. I used my net to trap it, but I really didn’t need to.

I didn’t hold it the way that I was trained. I held it cupped gently in my hands, trying to warm it. I knew it was in rough shape, and I wanted to do everything possible to help it recover. A man walked by as I kneeled on the cement sidewalk and thanked me for the work that I was doing and told me it was important. I was distracted but smiled and thanked him. His kind words would really mean a lot to me, later.

It was a pretty nondescript bird. It was grey – or was it brown? Even a dull olive colour? It was hard to tell. But it had two distinct white bars on each wing, and a small beak that gaped open just a little.

How can you love a bird that you find on the sidewalk? It’s just a bird, something that is probably going to die, if not on this sidewalk or in your hands, it might be in a storm next week or in the talons of a hawk next year. And yet when you hold this sacred, fragile creature in your hands, you’re the one who is captivated. Love pours out of you geyser-like and you pray that somehow this little one won’t be hammered by the force of it.

My shift was over and I had other commitments (it’s a holiday, but I was helping a friend with a project). I was heartened by the occasional rustle of wings against the inside of the paper bag in which I’d finally placed the bird. Normally, I’d leave the bag at the security desk of one of the office towers, page the FLAP driver for a pickup, and continue on with my day. But I knew the holding station is a chilly concrete stairwell, and I truly couldn’t bear to leave this bird there for even a minute.

After the subway ride, the bird rustled more in the bag as I walked down the street to my apartment building. I was convinced that it sensed the sun and the beautiful trees and wanted to fly, and I was heartened and hopeful. By car we continued on to the Toronto Wildlife Centre, where I handed it over for assessment. Later I went there again to see if the bird was ready to be released. Instead I found out that due to the severity of its injuries, they’d had to euthanize it. The kind woman at the Wildlife Centre looked sympathetically at me, and I told her it was okay, that you win some and sometimes you lose some.

Goodbye, little Least Flycatcher. It’s actually not okay that we lost you, but I hope your last memories are of being held with reverence and enveloped in love.


Jay said...


I'm sorry you lost him, sweetie, but think of how many you saved.

Eclecta said...

Thanks, Jay ... I still feel sad about this one. I think I will for a good long while. I so wanted it to survive, and was so hopeful.

However, it does make the ones that do survive an even more rewarding experience. And also makes me hope that as many as possible never encounter the side of a building at all.