Last Monday afternoon, after several hours of leaf pick up I was startled by a large white bird on my deck. At first glance I thought it was a juvenile turkey vulture, but quickly realized that wasn’t the case at all. It was just hanging around, couldn’t fly very well at all and from the looks of it, was young enough that it didn’t have all it’s neck feathers yet. It was however a large bird and was making quiet chirping sounds, of course the face wasn’t like a cute puppy or kitten, however it was a face that I fell in love with. Let me digress for a moment and say that I have a huge heart for all animals. I hate to see anything suffer and hate to harm anything (sans mosquitoes and ticks) I will rescue just about anything from any situation that looks remotely dire to it’s living. Seeing anything hurt or killed will bring tears to my eyes, I know rationally that it’s part of the cycle of life, I get that. I also get though that while they may not relate the way humans do, doesn’t mean that all creatures great and small don’t feel and for that, they get my empathy, kindness, compassion and respect.
So back to my bird, I had a hockey game to go to and so we left and at that point I was hoping that where ever “mom” was she would show up and reclaim her lost child. When we got back home at 11:30 that night I searched the yard and saw no sign of the bird and felt relieved. So in the house I came and night chores began. Upon entering my bedroom, my cat Hayleigh was face planted against the screen, so much so that I couldn’t even see her breathing. Raccoon was my first thought and I went over and peered out the open window. There sitting on my porch chair looking right into my bedroom was the bird! Uh..ok time to Google…it turned out it was a Guinea Hen and it obviously had escaped from one of my neighbors.
I sent an email out and by the next morning I knew who she belonged to and I contacted her. She arrived her to claim the bird but by the time she did the bird had vanished. I listened and looked for that bird all day, I played Guinea songs off my deck hoping she’d come back and I left the flood lights on well into the night hoping she’d find her way back, but she didn’t. Now I was worried about that bird, we have owls, hawks and fox running around in these woods. I’ve seen them all and I regularly see what the hawks leave behind (piles of bird feathers). I hate it, I know they have to eat but how I wish they’d take there meal to go, instead of dining in my yard. Seeing a hawk snatch a frog out of my pond and chow down on it in the tree was just too much for me to take and I went out of the house shooing it out of the yard. Rationally I get it, emotionally forget it! I have a set of wonderful neighbors that love nature and wildlife and they too started keeping an eye out for this bird. She showed up down at their house near the end of the week and I was happy and surprised to know she was still alive. On Saturday morning she was here and we almost caught her, we had her cornered under the front porch but she escaped. With the owners and us we thought for sure we’d get her, we got so close and then she did something that surprised us all, she flew! After an hour and a half we gave up and hoped that she’d come back to roost here and we’d get her at night. Apparently these crazy birds don’t see well in the dark and you can sneak up on them and catch them. She however didn’t come back and I reasoned that after being chased for all that time, she’d never set foot here again.
Well this morning there she was eating cracked corn I’d put out for the squirrels. I watched her all morning thinking that perhaps she’d stay here as there was good eating and that tonight we’d be able to nab her and get her home safe and sound. It was not to be. I got up to start the laundry and in the time it took me to put one load in the washer and come back, the hawk got her. I looked out the window to see the hawk pinning her neck down to the ground. I ran out the door screaming no but it was too late that poor bird was no longer alive. I cried, I stood there in the yard crying for this bird that had managed to survive a full week on her own only to meet such an awful fate. I couldn’t bring myself to look at her and there was no way I was going to be able to clean her up. My amazing, incredible neighbor who had also been watching out for this bird came and got her.
I know a lot of people will think I’m nuts, I know that there are those who could never possibly understand. I know that to some it’s just an animal and so what. Trust me there are times when I think my life would be far easier if I didn’t feel the pain and hurt the way that I do. The thing is though, that for every tear I will ever shed for every animal that gets into my heart. I’ll have a hundred smiles for the joy that each of them brought me and that’s a pretty amazing gift!