June 11, 2005

The Bird in the Road

This morning M. and I were driving to town when we saw a small bird standing in our lane of Colorado 96. There was no traffic, so I swerved around it, but it did not fly off.

"Stop," she said. I was just turning to take the back road into Wetmore, so I made the turn and pulled over. M. jogged out of sight around the bend and came back a minute later with her hands cupped close to her jacket.

She held a male rufous-sided (Eastern, if you prefer) towhee. He had let her just pick him up. She thought that his wing was injured.

We stopped at the post office, and from the clerk I got the telephone number and directions to the home of some local state-licensed wildlife rehabilitators. Their telephone line was busy, so we drove.

Looking for the "green gate," I overshot it slightly and stopped to turn around. About then, the bird escaped and started fluttering around inside the Jeep. M. was trying to catch him gently.

"If he can fly," I said, "we should let him go and not bother Cec and Tom."

I opened the back and the towhee flew into the oakbrush, using both wings. It was the right habitat, just perhaps two miles from where he had been.

"He shit on me," M. said, looking down at her jacket.

"What do you expect from a bird? A handwritten thank-you note?" I said.

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