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.