Today I was driving into town on an average day full of errands: library, bank, and the grocery store. I was a bit ticked off at the husband who wouldn’t wait on me and left the house about 30 minutes beforehand. And he forgot to take the rent check.
So I dropped off the rent check and pulled out of the landlord’s driveway. I quickly sped up to 55 mph and spotted something in the road up ahead. As I got closer, I noticed it was a bird of prey. I positioned my vehicle for the bird to pass under my truck and in-between my tires so I wouldn’t hit it. I thought it was dead.
After I passed, I looked in my rear-view window and I saw the bird flapping its wings wildly.
It was alive!
I did what I hoped most would do: I stopped, turned around, and went back.
Admittedly, I have done this before; but not with a bird-of-prey. But a baby bird in the road I wanted to save.
Something deep inside of me has a heart for animals and I can’t stand to see them suffer. I almost became a vet except my heart bleeds when animals die.
I drove back towards her, praying another car would not hit her. I saw her mate who flew down but didn’t land due to a passing vehicle.
I pulled over across from the bird and got out.
I approached. It wasn’t moving.
I gently picked her up (for indeed it was a female or a juvenile as I just discovered on the internet).
I thought she’d claw me or try to fight.
But she didn’t.
She just looked at me. Immobile in my hands. Completely at my mercy. Helpless.
It was almost as if she was relieved.
To be off the road. And in safe hands.
She was soft.
And insanely beautiful.
Now what? I thought.
I had just wanted to move her to the side of the road.
But I couldn’t leave her now that I saw she needed help.
I gently placed her in my back-seat floorboard.
I googled on my phone the local raptor rescue group and called.
They were open and they’d take her.
Phew, I thought. Now she might make it.
I knew exactly where this rescue place was. I had been there many times before to show my kids the rescued birds.
I drove the bird there. I briefly worried she would fly around my car or try to escape while I was driving. Instead, she merely tucked her head and sat–grateful, it seemed.
“It appears to be a Northern Harrier,” the gentleman who picked her up from my truck told me.
“She didn’t fight me,” I said.
He confirmed my suspicions: that wasn’t a good sign.
He took her immediately to the back to be examined.
I filled out some paperwork and received a case number so I could call in 48 hours to check on her status.
As the lady thanked me, I instead thanked her and slipped her a $20.
For I had almost been in tears when I had picked that bird up.
The rescue lady was doing me a favor as well as the bird.
Granting a second-chance at life that we all so very-much deserve.
Just like Jesus has for all of us.
Northern Harriers are birds that fly low to the ground, hunting their prey in open fields.
Easily able to get hit by a passing motorist.
Unlike most birds-of-prey, the males are distinct from the females. The males are grey. The females and the juveniles are brown.
I feel God put me there, at that moment, not long after the bird had been hit, to save it. If nothing else, to at least not let it lie in the road, in fear and panic, awaiting the next hit that would end its life.
For I knew what to do. Maybe the one who hit it (and the others who passed by) didn’t.
For in that moment, what I had been thinking about, where I had been going, my anger, my frustrations at life–every minor thing that was passing through my brain–STOPPED.
I became focused on this bird and getting it help. Everything else could wait.
After I dropped her off, I went about my errands and my day.
But I was different.
Not angry. Or frustrated.
But privileged it seems.
To help God’s creatures when they cannot help themselves. Especially when its injuries were caused by man’s inventions.
We are all custodians of life.
Life great and small.
And I shall forever remember my brief encounter with this seemingly insignificant bird.
Who is gorgeous and majestic, strong yet precious.
And who might have been overlooked on any other day as it flew along the winds in amazing grace…
But for some reason our paths crossed.
And I feel connected to that bird in the ten minutes it sat quietly in my truck. Resting…
And I pray it will return to its mate and fly again.
Right where God put it to begin with.
Right where it belongs…
Please support your local raptor rescue group. Most are non-profits who do it for the love of the birds.
For you never know when one day you will be called upon to help. And you will need a place to go.