Warning: Experiences Like This Are Likely To Change Your Life!
It is amazing how we humans can get caught in tunnel vision. Things happen in our lives and we just use it as evidence that everything is about us. You have a challenge. Whether it’s health or finances or family or everything at once; we’re so quick to listen to our egoic minds and only see how it affects us. Sometimes, it’s just during a crisis but you and I both know people who spend 90% or their lives in this mode. When you ask them how they are, you know you’re going to here everything about what’s wrong with THEM. Not about challenges others are going through. That is, unless those challenges affect THEM.
This is why I’ve written about the importance of being mindful and present. This way, you’re paying attention and can respond to a need when it arises.
Today, was a major example of this for me! Let me tell you about it, ok?
Same Old Day, New Twist
This morning was not much different than any other Saturday morning. My wife was out of town with a friend so it was just me and Maggie (our 12 year old Yorkie/Chihuahua mix that still thinks she’s a puppy). We got up, I made breakfast and coffee and was just getting ready for a day of light work on my various projects. I was out in the kitchen cleaning up when I heard the thud. Anybody who feeds birds in their back yard knows that thud. It was the thud of a window strike. Apparently, a hawk had made another pass through my back yard and scattered my visitors.
Feeling a pit in my stomach, I braved to look out to see what had happened. That’s when I saw him. A male downy woodpecker laying on his side on the step right outside our back door. He was breathing but obviously incapacitated. I went to fetch my gardening gloves so if he were able to grasp anything, it wouldn’t be my skin-HA!
You Have To Do Things That Scare You!
Ready for the worst but thinking of the best (if that seems possible), I went outside and carefully grabbed him up into the palm of my hand. He was still breathing and his eyes were at least opening and closing which was a good sign. I said a prayer. I immediately began talking to him. I told him he’d had a little accident but that he was going to be ok. Each time I spoke, he would open his eyes and look right into my soul. Do you know that look? I continued to talk to him in a very slow, low and quiet manner not to alarm him. I know that interactions with humans can be a powerfully stressing event in itself but I couldn’t just let him lay there in case the hawk was still around.
Signs of Life!
The more he lay there, the better I began to feel about his chances. He was keeping his eyes open longer, responding to my words and he had started to grasp my thumb with both feet. He was now sitting up but not in a huge hurry to leave. I continued to tell him how beautiful he was and that he was going to be on my peanut feeder in no time. He acknowledged my vision and began to move his beak and look around. This is when I became the most encouraged because I was sure he had not broken or injured his neck.
I continued to talk to him and told him how much I enjoyed watching he and his mate visit my peanut and suet feeders. I told him how glad I was they were patient enough to wait for their turn in between the starlings and bluejays.
All the while, he kept looking into my soul.
That’s when the transformation happened!
The Patient Becomes The Doctor
Before I knew it, he was speaking to me! He was telling me how much he appreciated my help just now and all the kind things I do for him. He told me he knew (because he’d stayed in the tree and watched me) I was the one who put out all the wonderful food that they enjoyed. He told me I didn’t realize how much they needed that food in the winter especially. He said he’s often wanted to come down while I was filling feeders and tell me himself but he was afraid. He’d heard bad things about humans and he just believed them.
He told me he now knows all of those stories can’t be true. Some might be but he had hope that there were more like me. I told him there were but he was wise to be cautious.
By this time, he was moving his head back and forth and was flexing his jaw like a prize fighter trying to shake off a right hook that landed.
Then, he said thank you for helping him back to his senses and making sure no harm came to him while he was out of it. I told him it was my duty and pleasure.
The last thing he said was that he would be ok and that he would continue to check in on me from time to time. He told me that I was going to be ok, too!
All’s Well That Ends Well
With one more blink of his little eyes, he stood up straight and flew out of my hand. He flew the signature 45 degree woodpecker climb way up into one of our tallest trees! THAT is when I was sure he was going to be ok. The confirmation came when I saw him out on my peanut feeder again and fussing back and forth with his mate. My heart was full of joy. There is no other way to put it!
As we journey through this life, it’s so important that we check in and really pay attention to where we are and what we’re doing. I’ve tried to make sure we have our feeders and water far enough away from our house that most birds that do strike our windows rarely do it from very far away. The biggest threat is the patio to the back glass door. Ultimately, I think that’s one of the reasons he did so well.
Still, I could have stayed ensnared in my little routine and either ignored or not heard the window strike. I am so glad I chose to pay attention and respond! I know BOTH of us are better for the experience!
I cannot repay the feeling he gave me as I watched life return to his little body. I has changed me forever!
Let me apologize here for not taking any pictures. I really wanted to but I honestly thought he needed my help more than I needed to capture him digitally. Plus, I was afraid taking a picture of him laying there on his side would somehow negatively affect the outcome. Does that make any sense to you? I was worried capturing him in that state may beg to keep him in that state. Sorry, but that’s just my world view, I guess. How you think about something does impact how it turns out. My first thought in capturing him was almost from a postmortem mindset. I didn’t want to see him as gone before I was sure of it. I stand by my decision too!
Tell Me Your Stories
Have you been touched deeply by your interaction with your back yard friends or other wildlife? Please leave a comment and tell me about it! Then, tell me how it’s affected you. That’s the magic in the interaction for sure!
Enjoy your day,