Picking Up Injured Bird

Picking Up Injured Bird

Have you seen bird bodies in the middle of a road? I have, and when I can, I stop to pick them up in case they can recover. After this last experience, I will be paying more attention, and stopping more, if I can.

On this particular Saturday, I was headed to the grocery store when I saw a bird standing in the middle of my two-lane road trying to push another bird lying on its side. It reminded me of a video I saw online of a bird trying to push another injured bird up. It was an unusual enough sight that I pulled over to better observe what was going on.

When the standing bird saw my car, it flew off so I got out to check on the bird still on the ground. The bird lying wasn't moving but it was breathing. I didn't see any noticeable injuries but it didn't appear to be able to fly. On closer inspection, it was an Eastern Bluebird, probably hit by a passing car.

I love birds. I have more than 38 birdhouses scattered throughout my 1-acre Missouri hillside garden. Birds are not only fun to watch but they are natural insect predators helping to keep my little garden ecosystem balanced. One of the first species I found on this property were Eastern Bluebirds, which is why when the city asked me to help name my road, I suggested Bluebird - after a few other names were rejected. I was trying to keep the name honest to the area but they didn't think my first choice, "Lizard Ridge," would do much for the property resale value.

Wrapping the injured Eastern Bluebird in a towel I carry in my car, I took the bird home and gently inspected it for any injuries. It was breathing through an open beak so I placed it next to my little front porch waterfall in case it needed a drink.

 I placed the Eastern Bluebird I found lying on the road near my front porch waterfall.

I placed the Eastern Bluebird I found lying on the road near my front porch waterfall.

The Eastern Bluebird didn't move. Not knowing how long the Eastern Bluebird had been lying on the ground, I suspected the bird's body temperature might have been going down so I wrapped it back up to stay warm.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, "the Eastern Bluebird is a small thrush with a big, rounded head, large eye, plump body, and alert posture. The wings are long, but the tail and legs are fairly short. The bill is short and straight. Male Eastern Bluebirds are vivid, deep blue above and rusty or brick-red on the throat and breast. Blue in birds always depends on the light, and males often look plain gray-brown from a distance. Females are grayish above with bluish wings and tail, and a subdued orange-brown breast."

The injured bird close up looked like a female Eastern Bluebird. Her coloring was muted, as opposed to the bright feathers of the male Eastern Bluebirds I see periodically in my garden.

My garden is a certified wildlife habitat. Over the years, I have nursed and released dozens of wild animals back into the wild, all with the full knowledge of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

After taking down one of my bird cages in the garage, I made a little nest of paper towels in an old plastic container, wrapped the Eastern Bluebird in fleece and hung the bird cage outside in a tree.

 The injured Eastern Bluebird resting in a makeshift nest in a bird cage hanging from a tree.

The injured Eastern Bluebird resting in a makeshift nest in a bird cage hanging from a tree.

At first the Eastern Bluebird lay in the make shift nest with her eyes closed. It was hard not to check on her every few minutes but I finally walked away so she could rest in peace.

 Caged Eastern Bluebird started opening her eyes for a minute, then closing them.

Caged Eastern Bluebird started opening her eyes for a minute, then closing them.

Of course I didn't stay away, I kept going back to check on how she was doing and making sure she was tucked in and warm. 

About half an hour later, she was opening and closing her eyes but she was still not showing a lot of energy.

Her body temperature, however, was warmer so I tucked her in tightly again and forced myself inside to get a cup of tea.

 This was a good sign, her eyes were open and bright, she may have just recovered.

This was a good sign, her eyes were open and bright, she may have just recovered.

After another half an hour, her eyes were fully open and bright so I decided to take her out to see if she could fly. 

Gently removing her from the fleece, I opened my hands and off she flew into a nearby tree.

 Recovering Eastern Bluebird perches in a nearby tree in Bluebird Gardens.

Recovering Eastern Bluebird perches in a nearby tree in Bluebird Gardens.

She sat on a nearby tree branch for several minutes before moving on. I like to think she knew where to find the male Eastern Bluebird that was trying to nudge her when she was lying on the road.

As I watched her fly off, I thought about how bluebirds are a symbol of happiness and how her recovery made me very, very happy.

Charlotte