[This is a letter I wrote to my friends on an e-mail mailing list to share my grief and request information or suggestions. Your feedback, dear reader, is welcome and appreciated.]
Dear AR Friends...
[Please pardon any typos--I'm not going to proof this.]
I write to you this evening with a tear stained face and a broken-heart. I may just be a stupid fool. I'm definitely feeling under equipped and under informed. As I tell you what happened and share my sadness, I hope you will send me book titles, website links and informational resources to make me better equipped and informed.
My story begins with panicked phone call from my husband. "Can you leave work NOW?" It was about 40 minutes until the end of my work day, and he had just left his office. He was in Cleveland's public square and had found an injured bird, a pigeon. He told me that he (for convenience he'd just assigned the gender) was getting blown all over and was awfully close to the street and traffic. I told him I had to send out a package and then I'd be there (5 minutes away) as soon as I could.
I finished my package and rushed out of the office with a envelope box (the closest, most accessible box). I met him on the street. A kind woman who saw him trying to comfort the bird and keep it from getting too close to the road gave him a small shopping bag to put the bird in to get it to a vet--he believed from its movement either its leg or wing was broken. We carried him straight to a cab with the box holding the bag to lend support. The bird appeared to have gone to sleep (we assumed exhausted from fighting the wind to no avail) or else had gone into shock. We took the cab straight to the vet closest our home (about 4 or 5 large blocks--about 15 or 20 minutes walking time) who had fixed our youngest cat. The bird had started to stir in the bag and was awake and alert by the time we reached the vet's office.
They wouldn't even look at it and said (despite their Yellow Pages AD!!!) that they didn't treat birds. Even though we told them we had no car and had taken a cab they, they only gave us the number to the closest wildlife office. "Somewhere in the Park--you know, down that main road in the valley," she had told us. We asked for an address but all they had was a phone number which she wrote down for us, never offering to call or offering us the use of their phone. I took the number and asked if they had a more proper carrier--offering to buy one for the bird. She walked to the back came out a minute later to say that they didn't have any carriers we could use for the bird. They had no procedures for caring for rescued wild animals, no numbers posted, no suggestions and offered no help.
We left the office to find a payphone. Both gas stations near the office had no phone, and we end up walking another block to a phone (with no phonebooks) only to get a voicemail message indicating that the wildlife office hours were 10 to 5 daily. We decided our only option was to walk home to try and find a vet or rescue group in the Yellow Pages who could help us. The bird stirred some. I spoke to it soothingly as we walked, and he calmed down briefly. Every so often it would get upset, and we would try to calm it down.
About half way home (a couple of blocks from the vet), I noticed the stir and calm had stopped. I stopped in my tracks to check the bird. His head was twisted up in an unusual way, I looked for the soft and reassuring rise and fall of its feathers we had watched in the cab knowing it was breathing fairly normally. I saw no reaction. I took the chance of reaching in with my hand, there was no movement, no stirring, no breathing and no little heartbeat.
We walked the rest of the way home in relative silence, my husband muttering that he couldn't understand a vet who wouldn't help a wounded animal. My only noise sobs with tears streaking my face. When we got home we buried him beneath a tree in the back yard, each of us checking a couple of times to be certain we weren't mistaken not wanting to give up or bury an injured by not deceased bird. Then, I came in the house and burst into tears.
Usually by the time I find wounded birds, there is no chance to help--they have already passed away. Often, they have flown straight into the glass windows of one of the downtown buildings or smacking into a tree in the backyard with fatal wounds and no breath bring a tear to my eye as I grant them a respectable burial.
I don't know that what we did was right. I am second guessing my every choice and action. I am wondering if he would have had a better chance without our interference--he didn't appear to. My husband thought and truly felt that without intercession he would have been blown into the street and crushed.
I love all animals and birds are one of my favorites. I have birdwatching books and for Christmas my husband bought me a wonderful pair of birdwatching binocculars. I feed my backyard flocks (and the four squirrels who live in our big tree) every morning and many evenings too. So I pray that if you are to tell me I was wrong and shouldn't have tried to rescue the bird--doing more harm than good--that you will be kind knowing that I...that we were trying the best we could to good. I haven't had nearly as much experience as many of you viewers in rescuing and hope you can offer me advice. I'm always wishing that I could do more to help more animals, and I feel so awful that I couldn't even help this one...
Any suggestions and reference information would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for "listening,"