I had recently become the unwitting sponsor for a neighborhood stray. He had been around a few weeks when, this morning, he threw himself against the porch screen and clattered down into the kindling. By the time I had gone to the back door, I noticed he seemed... hunched. I went to the porch door and saw him hovering over a small grey lump.
The bird lay on its side, eyes closed, cheek against the ground. The damage had been done; time for nature to take its course. I drew the blinds. He carried him around to the side of the house and I hoped to put it out of my mind today. After a minute, he brought him around to the back yard again. As I began to ponder the injustice to God’s smallest creatures, I saw its wing flicker- ever so slightly.
For a moment, I balanced the fleeting needs of a stray versus the life of a winged creature whose days are woefully short.
Slipping on the moss, I gingerly scooped up the sprawled lump. I took him inside and cupped him in my hand. He closed his eyes. The vigil began. He must have been worried by the cat for too long.
After 15 minutes he seemed to rally. I had seen this before in birds and people- too many times. As their body shuts down, blood is routed to the essential systems and they resume vitality. I placed him near the window to gather up a little more warm sunlight, but he made one last attempt to escape.
This was his chance.
I took him outside.
I tried to place him on a small branch. As his chest brushed the branch, he burst into flight and flew off into the neighboring yard. After a few seconds in a tree, he fluttered his feathers into place and flew off into the foliage.
Unable to withhold a slight smile, I turned to the rest of the tasks of today.