Cussing Dude and Staring Robin

Three encounters with wildlife in my neighborhood. I was walking the dogs yesterday morn, blustery but pleasant day, and saw a chubby robin tugging a truly enormous wriggling earthworm clamped in its beak, dragging it along the sidewalk like a fireman pulling a hose. The robin spotted me, about ten feet away; it froze, then, and–looking as bereft and resigned as a bird can look–dropped the worm and fluttered over into a lawn. There it alit and froze again, staring at me, its head cocked. I said, “Robin dude, you can have your worm, it’s cool.” (I did say that. My neighbors often witness me talking to animals like this and stare at me almost like the bird did.) Then I drew the dogs off the walk into the street, way over to one side, circling around the writhing worm and the watching bird. The bird’s head turned to watch me–then when I’d gone far enough away, it hopped over to the worm, and took it up again in just the same way. It had thought this out, it seems. And we were cool.

I was washing dishes and heard a thump on a nearby window–and it was a particular soft but emphatic thump that I know too well. The sound of a bird accidentally flying headlong into glass. As many as 900 million birds a year are thought to die that way. But they don’t always perish. I went out to see, and saw a lark half flopped on the ground, one wing extended–and this bird too was staring at me, in fear. I went to it and gathered it up in my two hands as gently as possible, and took it to a gardening shed out back, set it on a shelf on an old folded up rug. Then I left the shed, the door cracked open, but not too much, so it could recover, if it did, in the dark. I went back a little later–it was in the same spot, but when it saw me it fluttered into a corner. Did not seem to have a broken wing. I left the door open wider. Came back an hour later, it was gone, and I saw no signs of it, no feathers from a cat attack, nothing, and I think it recovered from, perhaps, a concussion of sorts, and flew off.

Walking the dogs that night, I saw a car pull up rather abruptly in front of a small house, a guy with silky looking athletic shorts and a sleeveless shirt and a short beard, his head shaved close, got out of the driver’s side, cussing, and a young woman who, I felt, was likely his wife, got out on the other side. The guy snarled at her, “You fucking dog cunt!” and threw the keys in his hand furiously at the lawn. He stomped up to the front door, as behind his back she grabbed the keys from the lawn, yelled something at him, got in the car as he turned back to her from the porch. “You’re fucking leaving? Good!” She drove off, he turned and tried the door. Then yelled. “Fuck!” The door was locked. Ah, wildlife.

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