This morning I was in the backyard pulling weeds when John noticed a bird hopping along on the ground. It obviously injured and I didn't have much of a choice but to pick him up and bring him inside. In my hands it laid calmly on its back as if to surrender. It was so small and weighed no more than a whole clove of garlic. Perhaps an adult male House Finch. By the torn and raggedy wings, I could see something was terribly wrong but it was not bleeding anywhere. From the state of the bird, it must have been in this condition for days. Some how it found its way to our back yard.
I put water in a beer cap and laid down some seeds. When I put the little bird down, it plopped on its belly with its beak in the beer cap of water. And did nothing and lied still. I don't blame it. I am sure it thinks that this is surely the end of the road.
When its thirst was quenched it picked up a sunflower seed but wasn't able to crack the shell since its feet were bound. So I pulled it away and John remembered we had shelled sunflower seeds and offered it to the finch. After some hesitation the bird started to eat the seeds. It fed itself like the starving little bird it was. It seemed the bird was doing so much better!!
And so we decided to take it to our veterinarian. But they don't work with birds. Long story short, we went to two other animal hospitals and none of them can help the bird. They cannot help wild birds because they may carry diseases (but what about domesticated animals with diseases). Finally we were referred to the Washoe County Animal Control. The whole time the finch ate and drank...and even tried to take a nap. I am sure it was exhausted from hopping around for days looking for food and water! It let me pet its soft little head to comfort it. By now it must know that John and I are not going to hurt him and trusted us.
The office was not open yet but a guy allowed us in and looked at the bird. He suggested the best thing to do was put the bird back where we found it. But we knew the bird couldn't survive on its own and would die of starvation or hunger if it didn't get eaten by a prey. So the guy offered to take a look. He didn't seem to have a lot of patience and it was understandable. I bet he sees this so often, he's desensitized to hurt wild animals being dropped off at the shelter. Finally he shook his head and said he would have to euthanized the little finch.
John and I had our hopes up that the little bird would be okay and would be able to return to the wild. We were willing to take care of it until it regained independence. We weren't really prepared to part with it at that moment and we were stunned speechless. I started tearing ... but I knew it was probably for the best. Not knowing what else to say we gave in and walked away.
Only until after we came home did the impact of the little finch hit me. I felt the sadness of losing a pet who had been part of the family. I know you would say, it is nature and animals in the wild die all of the time. But it didn't die. Against all odds the bird found its way to our back yard. It was doing
so well after water and food. All it needed was a chance to get better. Since its life was in our hands we felt responsible for its survival...and we feel terrible for not having fought for him. And sad for having saved him only for him to be euthanized.
So may he rest in peace. At least it was able to drink the water and eat seeds it. It didn't die of dehydration or starvation before it went to bird heaven. And it some ways it was able to fly again...if only in a car. I will bet most finches can never say they have ridden in a car in their lifetime.