I had an unexpected visitor drop by the garden today as I was outside taking pictures of some new jewelry pieces I'd made. I heard a loud thwap! and looked up to find the birdfeeder swaying and a bright little feathered creature lying below. The poor little oriole was stunned and didn't move as I scooped him up.
I spent a summer working in wildlife rehabilitation - well, one summer particularly with songbirds - and I knew the best thing was to put him somewhere safe and quiet to let him recover a bit... a shoebox was ideal (luckily I had one lying around...) But my little friend had other ideas - while I waited for Davis to get the box, he gave me a strong kick with his feet and startled me enough that I loosened my grip and off he flew! (silly me for letting go - I wouldn't have done that while I was working in rehab but I guess it's been a few years!)
He flew to a tree about 12 feet away, so I had an idea that his wings and legs must be okay, but I was hoping he didn't have a concussion or any internal damage - he'd hit that feeder pretty hard. After standing and watching him for 15 minutes, I went back to my photography, checking on him periodically. He seemed fairly alert - looking around and having a poop - but he stayed on his perch for over an hour. I shooed away one of the neighbourhood cats at one point and kept an eye out for the sharp-shinned hawk that's picked a dove or two off our feeder. Mr. Oriole didn't seem inclined to move, which made me a little nervous - I kept having visions of him toppling off his branch, stone dead. Finally, he hopped up to a higher branch, then a higher one - and was off. His flight seemed pretty steady and I lost him in the trees past our yard, so I'm hoping he's fully recovered or at least that he finds a safe spot until he is!
It often takes a personal encounter with an animal one-on-one to feel a connection to nature. When I worked in rehab, we would get so many people bringing in wounded birds because their cat had dragged it in or somebody had "rescued" a baby from below its nest. Of course everybody feels bad for that downy little robin or gasping warbler, but they don't seem to realize that there are a million more birds out there that they just don't see - that their cats eat without a trace or who hit their windows and die with no sign. I sometimes wish we could be more proactive in our approach to saving wildlife, whether it's each individual or a species as a whole.
Stay safe, Mr. Oriole, and all feathered things tonight...