To Save a Mockingbird

I had the oddest experience the other day.

It’s springtime, of course, and the birds are careening all over, some building nests, others tending the hatchlings. As often happens this time of year, the lighting outside was fairly dark, with lots of low-lying, heavy dark clouds. This increases the odds that some hapless bird is going to fly right smack into the windows, which inevitably happens once or twice a year, anyway.

Sure enough, that morning inside the store several of us were standing around talking when the telltale thump of Spring’s latest victim shut us up. Looking out the windows, we saw a mockingbird, lying on the ground, wings outspread, as though still in flight. As we stared, he periodically jerked and spasmed, his little legs kicking out, and making futile attempts to flutter his wings. We continued to watch through the windows for a bit longer, hoping he would soon right himself and fly away. But that didn’t happen.

My chief concern was that he was right in front of the glass doors, which meant a customer walking in or out could easily step on him, ending any thoughts of a happy ending. But I was also concerned that he seemed to be tiring, the jerks and sharp movements lasting less and less time, and happening with less frequency. So, I stepped outside, picked him up, smoothed his wings down, and set him upright in the palm of my hand.

I expected him to either fly off immediately or struggle against me, but he did neither, instead sitting absolutely quiet in my hand.

So, we just waited there together. I was concerned because he kept half closing his eyes, and again, because he didn’t seem to find the situation at all odd.

As we waited, I was struck by the impossibility of standing there with a live mockingbird in my hand. I love watching them, with their jaunty tails and variety of sounds. Long ago, in high school, there was a mockingbird that serenaded me several nights a week with a huge repertory. But I never pictured myself holding one.

As time passed, another mockingbird chirped at him, and he stood up for the first time in my hand. Then, a few minutes later a car drove by startling him and he jumped to my finger, like a pet parakeet. I expected him to fly off then, but he didn’t.

Then he started turning his head to look at me, like he hadn’t considered me before. That was when I first wondered if he had been temporarily blinded. It would explain why he was so docile.

Shortly after, he did fly off, after spending roughly 30 minutes with me. Though I hope it doesn’t happen again, I really did enjoy the experience. I also hope the rest of his Spring is much less uneventful.

*update* This is actually funny…I was checking out a local bird book, and it turns out the bird I had resembled the mockingbird, but wasn’t one. It was a curved-billed thrasher. That beak is really distinctive, and the eye color is really prominent, too. I couldn’t change this posting’s title, though. “To Save a Thrasher” just doesn’t have the same ring…!

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2 thoughts on “To Save a Mockingbird

  1. We had a bird bump the door leading out to my back deck this last weekend. The bird flew away so I don’t think he was too injured.

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