Unwilling Salvation

I live in an apartment complex. In this complex there are lots of trees, and a rather large, noisy, and prolifically poop generating population of several different breeds of birds that live in those trees. Generally I like having the birds around, even if they do increase my car wash budget.

This morning, as I was taking a walk around around the complex as I do every morning (and mostly hating it, but that’s life) I came across a flopping mass of bird on the pavement, surrounded by a couple of other birds. I looked closer, and found that it was a fledgling bird that had damaged its wing. I put it in the grass, and went on my way.

A little later I came back with a kennel, and put the little bird in the carrier. The adults were frantically yelling at me to put their baby down, but I ignored them. I actually found the little bird hiding behind a truck tire – if that truck had moved, no more bird. I took a maybe thirty mile one way unplanned trip to a rehabilitator, and with any luck the little guy will be out doing whatever grackles do when it’s all recovered. Mainly making loud noises and pooping on things.

The point of this story is not to talk too much about what I did or why I did it. I’m a strong believer in doing good things in private, so I don’t tell without a good reason. But I think I have a good reason.

See, that little bird was injured. It was probably in quite a bit of pain, probably hungry and thirsty, and likely would have died if left to its own devices (if you jump out of this nest, you shall surely die). As far as the little bird and its family knew, I was going to harm the bird. They didn’t want me to take the bird. They would have rather I left it to die, rather than save it. They had absolutely no concept of the idea that I was there to help.

And then the little bird sat at the bottom of a large kennel going eighty miles per hour for something like twenty minutes. It was not happy with its situation, and would have tried to flop away if I’d let it. I took it to the rehabilitator and now it’s probably getting gourmet meals and lots of rest safe from predators. Its probably still not happy with its situation, but it has a good chance of pulling through now, where it had almost zero before.

I saved that bird against its will.

Most, if not all, of you would say “you did the right thing”. And if the birds had the perspective required, they would probably agree. But they don’t, so there is a nonzero chance I need to watch my head next time I walk through that area, or a grackle might divebomb me. (They’re usually pretty good about that, but I’m not entirely joking).

I see so many people in the same situation. Desperately flopping around, in great pain, unable to do anything to improve their situation, and everyone around them are trying to convince them that it’s all normal, that those who want to help will hurt them instead, that instead of getting help you should just accept your injury as part of your identity and run away from those who want to make things better. The idea that that big hand reaching for them and scooping them up and putting them in a kennel is terrifying, because they completely lack the perspective required in order to understand that this the on way they’re going to survive.

Sometimes people think you have to go to church to get a sermon. Sometimes you find a sermon in the salvation of an injured bird. And those are the best kinds of sermons, I think. No one’s trying to teach you something. No one’s trying to convince you of someone. You jut see a bird terrified of the being thats going to save it, and you think… that’s us. That’s so us.

What is the point? The point is this. Sometimes that which is going to save you may be the most terrifying thing you’ve ever experienced and you hate it with every fiber of your being. But it’s the only way you’ll make it through. Even if you can’t recognize those situations (and by definition you can’t) at least recognize that those situations can happen. Maybe something good will happen.

It did for that little grackle.

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