Stick with me here; it's quite a story. Last night in the woods around our house, Heather and I heard a wood thrush singing its ethereal flute song which got me to thinking about migratory birds. Almost every spring, I find a dead bird at work at the base of one of the floor-to-ceiling picture windows looking over the college courtyards. I had my eyes open today for one of these birds for a possible photo op, but didn't see one.
On my way home from work, on Parkview Ave where Western Michigan University has built a sprawling new campus extension on the site of a previous natural prairie area where I did breeding bird surveys a few years back, I saw an intense orange fireball of feathers streak low from the left shoulder of the road, across my front bumper and then, in my rear view mirror, flailing on the right-hand shoulder. I felt inclined to stop for both the reasons of a possible picture for this blog and to face up to the karma of wanting to find a dead bird to photograph. I parked my car and got a baggie out of my trunk that I keep for just a situation like this so that I can take these birds to a friend who legally preserves and collects birds for research and education. When I got to the bird, it was panting and blinking its eyes.
I wasn't prepared for that.
I decided to snap a picture and do something with the bird when I heard a woman shout over the traffic, "Is it still alive?" I looked up and saw a 55 year-old woman who saw me looking at something as she whizzed by, wondered if it was a bird and pulled over to help. She said that her cat sometimes killed birds and that she felt bad about that and has learned to take in injured birds such as this Northern Oriole, to her house, put them in a brown bag in a cool dark place in her basement to get them calmed down and rested. She has had at least one success story of recovery and release. I gave her my baggie. She scooped up the bird, thanked me for being concerned about the little birdies and made some other comment about just being glad to know that others care enough about wildlife to pause in their busy lives to do something.
I thought yesterday's picture of the tulips had color, but the incredible orange and black of this Oriole, somewhat abstracted by the unintentional fuzzy focus, holds some deep, deep beauty.