Friday, May 3, 2013
TREE SWALLOW AT MY WINDOW
I hastily dried my hands and rushed out the back door to the rescue.
Frankly, a tree swallow was about the last bird I'd have expected to see injured on the ledge. Though they feed regularly above the pool in front of the cottage—aerial masters, dipping and diving after mealtime insects—this particular window is located well under the eave of the cottage, and looks out on an overgrown corner of the upstream portion of the yard. A white pine shades above, a couple of large sycamore intertwine and overhang the pine, there's a lilac only a couple feet away, a wall of honeysuckle along the top of the bank, and several volunteer maples which further screen the yard from the river almost completely—to the point you can barely catch a glint of water moving beyond the leaves.
I've purposely left this corner dark and dim so's to furnish a cool, shady retreat on a hot summer's day. I couldn't see how a bug-chasing swallow might even fly into this screened and shadowy nook from the river, nor would it be easy from any direction. Indeed, this was the first bird of any sort that I've heard thump into this window.
Yet one had…fooled by the window's mirrored world-beyond illusion, into colliding head-on with the unyielding glass. Now, the question was whether or not the little swallow with such stunning blue-green iridescent feathers would survive his mistake.
I did what I usually do—scooped the injured bird into my hands. Is this the right thing to do? I don't know. But I know when I've elected to leave a fallen bird on its own, they seem to die more often than not. Perhaps their injuries are too great, but maybe sometimes it's due to shock. And maybe I'm just fooling myself—but they seem to do better when I hold them upright, control their premature struggles, add warmth, smooth their feathers, offer gentle words of encouragement.
Yeah, it's probably silly. But I do it anyway. And it's really neat when a limp and lifeless bird suddenly begins to reawaken—a mysterious light reappears in their eye, the everyday miracle of life returns, and hope becomes reality. And even if I did nothing to make it happen, I at least witnessed its occurrence while holding that creature in my hands.
After fifteen minutes or so, the tree swallow seemed fully perked up. Whether or not it would be able to fly, only a trial would reveal. But after snapping a quick portrait, I wished it Godspeed and opened my hand…and like a swift bolt of blue-green lightening, the swallow was up and away.
I love happy endings.