Watch where you walk

Rescued in Manhattan in 1994

May 25, 1994. I was late for work hurrying down 33rd street. The train was late and it had rained in the night. As I power-walked head down in the wind, up ahead I noticed a circle of people clustered around something on the sidewalk. I could not help myself. I stopped to see what had caught the attention of jaded New York commuters. There on the side walk was a female northern parula. Alive, eyes open yet completely still.

“Oh my God, it’s a parula.” The crowd parted. I knelt down. Satisfied that someone was taking care of the situation, they melted away. I stared at the tiny bird. Gingerly I gathered her up, carrying her cupped in my hand to my office on Park. When I walked in my co-worker asked what I had. I told him it was a migrating warbler that appeared to have hit the Empire State Building. How she did not get crushed, stepped on in the morning rush, I had no idea. He immediately took out his coffee and handled me the bag. I nestled her in it on a bed of napkins. Lightly folding down the top, I picked up the phone and started to call birding friends and the local bird societies. One of them gave me the name of a midtown rehabilitator, Vivian Sokol. When I called and explained the situation, she said to come right over. She was amazing.

On December 28, 1994, she mailed me this photo ……with a note on the back. “She suffered a concussion from the collision and a broken wrist on her left wing. Rehabilitating took the summer. She was released at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Sep 3, 1994 in time for fall migration. She underwent a complete moult from July to August. Here she has completed it to perfection by the end of August when migration restlessness peaked.”

The memory of holding that tiny life moves me still. Thank you Vivian Sokol for the work that you did and hopefully are still doing.

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4 Comments

Filed under migration, Photos

4 responses to “Watch where you walk

  1. Bill

    Great story. Must have been an amazing experience. I have never held a bird.

  2. My faith in humanity is revived when I read stories like yours. Thank you.

  3. Holding a tiny bird like that is an amazing, safe, humbling feeling.

  4. Your post gave me goosebumps all down my arms. Beautiful!

    Several of my encounters with little wildlife in urban areas did not have such a wonderful ending, but I believe that they were comforted by having warmth and gentleness nearby as they passed their final minutes. One sparrow passed away in my hands. I too remember this incredible sense of tenderness for their fragile little bodies.

    I have had a lot of encounters with birds and small wildlife that I have begun to tell in by Bird Songs and Squirrel Tales blog http://www.birdsongsquirreltales.blogspot.com. This is inspiring me to get them written!

    Also check out this picture: http://beavercreeklake.blogspot.com/2008/06/mother-bird-protecting-nest-on-ground.html. The area is cleared for a future restaurant, next to a lake. Happily it hasn’t sold yet, so no imminent danger of building starting. There will be more pictures and a story.

    Let’s hear it for rehabbers!

    Beautiful blog. I’ll be adding it to my list!

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