A Bird's Tale

The other day, I wandered out of my office, my mind still entrenched in the scene I was writing when I heard a THUD at the kitchen window. This happens a couple times a year. A bird from the birdfeeder outside that window takes a wrong course and crashes into the glass. The results vary. If it was just a glancing blow, the bird flies off, sometimes leaving a feather as a calling card stuck to the window until the rain washes it away. (Me? I don’t do windows. The rain always gets to it before I do). Sometimes the bird isn’t so lucky and I find his body on the ground outside.

On this particular day, I was headed outside anyway, so I grabbed my coat and went to investigate.

I found the poor feathered beast—a titmouse—beak-first in the snow, his wings and tail feathers spread motionless. My heart broke. I have so few titmice this year and they are so cute, I hated to see this one lifeless on the ground. I knelt and gently scooped it into my gloved hands. And it moved! Not much, but enough for me to know that it wasn’t DOA. However, it did not struggle. I folded its wings against its body and carried it to the bird feeder. Cradling the tiny creature, I swept the snow away from an up-side-down feed pan and set the bird down on it. It didn’t budge. I stroked its back and spoke to it, coaxing it to wake up.


Having no experience with bird first aid, I went on about my outdoor chores. The titmouse was still as I had left him when I finished. But it wasn’t dead. And nothing seemed broken as far as I could tell. Well, little one, I thought, you’re either going to make it or you’re not.

I returned to the warmth of the house, but kept watch out my kitchen window. Eventually, I noticed he had his feet under him. Then I thought I noticed him turn his head. YES. I saw him turn it again. His neck wasn’t broken. His legs worked. But I sure bet he had the mother of all headaches.

Which leads me to wonder…if people see birds when they hit their heads, what do birds see?

Anyway, the titmouse still didn’t seem interested in moving. It occurred to me that I was missing a prime photo op. I don’t have a fancy camera with a long lens, so I tend to leave the bird photos to my friend, Doris. But here I had a chance to get up close and personal. No telephoto lens or tripod required. If the poor little guy died, I would feel bad and would delete the photos. But if he lived, I could say “look at the bird I rescued!” So I grabbed my camera and headed out again.

As I approached the titmouse, he looked at me. Right at me. Then he looked away. I snapped a couple pictures. And two seconds after I snapped this one…

…he flew away! My heart soared with him.

He only flew into the branches of my flowering crab apple tree, where he perched and proceeded to scold me in that raspy titmouse voice. I’d like to think he was saying thank you, thank you, thank you. But it sounded like scolding. I didn’t care. He was alive and sitting in my tree instead of buried in the snow.

Look at the bird I rescued!


Joyce said…
Very cool, Annette!

Birds fly into my sunroom windows all the time. Every time I clean them (yes, I do windows!) the guys say, "Oh no, mom's trying to kill birds again!" I'm not--I love the birds.
Sara said…
Way to go, Annette! See, all that time as an EMT was worth it!
Anonymous said…
Hi Annette,
what a heart-warming story. And thanks for mentioning me! Titmice are on the top of my list of favorite birds, of course. If you want any, I'll send some your way. Ours, together with chickadees, seem to have had a very good year!
I, too, hear that dreaded thud from time to time and put a hawk decal in our most dangerous window.
Happy birding!

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