Today while I was in my kitchen I heard a loud thump. Then a chirp. I knew it could only mean one thing. I opened the sliding glass door, peeked out to the area of window uncovered by curtains and saw a robin lying on a patio stone by the table. I was ten or so feet away, but I could visibly see his laboured breathing. Besides that he wasn't moving.
I ran to the front room to find some winter gloves and put on my shoes. Then I raced to the backyard and put the gloves on. I got the pool skimmer, but then I saw a rug on the porch. I picked it up, put it beside the bird, then gently picked him up to put him on it. It was raining a little. I was going to take him inside to shelter him and warm him, I decided, but not on a pool skimmer.
The robin was still as I picked it up. I wondered why it couldn't move. Broken spine? Brain injury? Then it fluttered its wings a bit, fell off the rug and onto its back. There was no blood or anything. Hooray! Perhaps he was just stunned from the impact. That's why he didn't get up and walk or fly away. I put my gloved hands around it, picked it up and put it back on the carpet. I removed them from its body when I noticed it was no longer breathing laboriously. I looked closer. The bird was dead.
I was shocked. I really didn't expect it would die. As I sat on my knees examining the bird's layers of grey feathers, I realized that this was probably for the best. What could I have done for it after bringing it into my home? It would have suffered, perhaps taking a long time to die.
I guess my hope that the bird would survive stemmed from a previous experience I had with a critically injured bird. Years ago, my mom found one floating in our pool. We put it in a sand sieve, put a towel over it and fed him water (or milk?) It appeared more injured than the bird I found today, but with some time in our care, it was soon ready to hop out of the sieve and under a tree. Shortly after it flew away. I hoped the same thing would happen to this robin today. I didn't want to have to kill it like I had to kill a pigeon in my backyard six summers ago. I knew that bird didn't have a chance of recovery because the back of its head was gone. I wrote about the experience killing the pigeon here.
I think it would have been easier to find the robin dead than alive. Well, no that's not true. When it was alive, I had hope. I knew I could do something. The hardest part was seeing it die after being so sure it would live. It took me a while to process that fact. I kept opening the window and peeking out to see if the bird had recovered somehow. Instead it was just getting soggy from the rain.