Monday, August 9, 2010


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.


  1. That's so sad. Things like that are just heartbreaking to me and bother me for a long time. It's those things you never really forget, isn't it? I'm delighted you tried to help it. That's the most anyone could do.

  2. :( It's never nice to see something die, no matter what it is. In the kitchen at work the other day, I saw an ant and automatically squished it, without thinking and then felt horribly guilty for hours later! At least you tried to help.

  3. It's hard to watch an animal die. Kudos to you for trying to help!


  4. I've found several on my deck too. Sometimes, even with the window decals, they get confused and there is a window strike. So sorry about your Robin friend, but how lovely that you tried to help.

  5. Aww, that is sad. At least you tried to help him, even if he didn't make it. Poor thing.

  6. Its hard to watch an animal die. I had fish once that died during transportation. I tried to revive it with drinking straw, and the I had to accept it that is was dead. Thanks for sharing your story, one way or the other 'acceptance' is all you can do. Anna :)

  7. I am sorry your witnessed that, especially with a birdie that has such a great name. I didn't want your robin story to end this way either. At least, the birdie did not suffer long.

  8. I wonder if one day in the future these blog posts will be collected and turned into a work of non-fiction, like Salam Pax's "Baghdad Blog". You're a gifted writer, Ash, and I hope you continue to do it.

  9. Wow, you are much more caring toward birds than most people would be. You did your part and that is the important thing. Well, that and the life of the bird.

  10. You have such a pure heart! You also have the gift of writing, and I thank you for sharing.

    Novels: I see you enjoyed Lovely Bones. I've finally decided to read it. What's next on your list to read?

  11. The Vegetable Assassin - You are right and while things like this happen, it's very clear that I won't ever forget. I'll never forget kneeling over the bird in the rain waiting for its breast to rise again. You're right again: this is the most I could have done. I should be proud of what I did.

    Annelise - Thanks for sharing this. It isn't nice, you're right. But I do think it's a good opportunity to inspect a creature's beautiful features like I did when I found a dead bee today. My dog tried to eat it!

    Jane - Thanks! It is hard for sure, but it would have been even harder if I hadn't tried.

    Jayne - Wow, several? I'm sorry to read this. Thanks for your sympathy and praise.

    Kate - Yes, I think I also said "poor thing," but aloud to him. Such a waste of a life. I did what I could. Thanks!

    Anna - Acceptance IS important! Thanks for helping me remember.

    Robyn - Yes, witnessing the death was the hardest part. My mom said the same thing. It didn't suffer for long. Thanks for comforting me!

    Laura - That's a neat idea! Reading is extra special when you have a book to hold and enjoy. Thanks so much for your continued support! I will check out "Baghdad Blog." Something tells me professor Laura would love to be part of this conversation!

    Cheeseboy - That's interesting. I assumed most people would do something similar in my situation. I could never continue my activities knowing an animal was suffering and needed my help. I do love and care about animals, so it's nice of you to say that I care and did my part.

    Cheryl - Thank YOU for reading and complimenting me! I am a pretty open, honest person and I try to convey that here. The Lovely Bones is a great book that deals with the terror of abduction, rape and murder and the complexities of loss. Please let me know what you think of it! I have two books on the go right now... Well, kind of. But I haven't really been in the reading mood!