last breaths

There is all sorts of life and death happening around us in these forests.  Last week there was a mountain lion kill, a buck, on the Field of Dreams, all covered in grass.  The kill was moved from the field and the coyotes were heard celebrating their scavenged feast in the wee hours of the night.

We found a lesser goldfinch where the boys play, under a wall of windows, where the bird likely hoped to fly into the reflected blue sky.  We acknowledged his life, admired his beautiful feathers and his tiny feet, and said a little blessing that we borrowed from Gwynneth.

Tonight, we dealt not with death, but with dying, which feels much different.  The boys found a young flicker, with just the beginnings of  feathers, lying on a concrete sidewalk, bloodied, but still breathing.  Oh, what is there to do in such a situation?  The mind nods, yes this is part of the cycle of life.  But it is such a fragile part, the moment between life and death, a moment that lingered far too long for this little bird, all alone on a concrete sidewalk.

We picked up the little fellow.  We noticed his parts: his big beak and tiny eyes, his surprisingly large wings and feet, the barely-there feathers already showing signs of their colors — little bands of orange on the wing.  We held him.  We kept him warm.  All of this, I realize, was totally unnatural.  But he was a baby and he was suffering and it seemed clear that he shouldn’t suffer alone.  We provided presence for a little bird that should have felt warmed by his nest-mates and parents.  We acknowledged his life.  We emitted an abundance of love.    Yes, totally unnatural.  But not.  We had a choice to act from our human hearts or our scientists’ minds.  The heart seemed the natural choice.


Tomorrow, we’ll return the little fellow to the earth and let him be a feast for other life.  That experience seems much more clear to my heart and mind  than the experience of suffering and dying.  I am comforted by the significance of this moment for our little people and grateful for the life that provided them the opportunity to feel an abundance of love for a little wild bird.  I know that love will carry over to admiration and respect for all creatures.

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