Let sleeping birds lie

Lisa and I recently had a strange bird sighting. I want to describe
it this week.

We were just sitting around talking at the kitchen island when Lisa
noticed a little chickadee sitting on the hummingbird feeder located
on the porch. It was very puffy and appeared to be sleeping or maybe
sick and near death. It was all a bit strange as the hummingbird
feeder is designed with slippery angles to prevent perching or aviary
visits other than from hovering hummingbirds. It would have been much
easier to perch on a sunflower feeder.

Here is a description of the environment which encompasses our porch.
The sunflower feeders are in the area of the hummingbird feeders. We
see plenty of chickadees around the area and there are nesting boxes
for them to use. We have both coniferous and pine trees in the
immediate yard. There is water available for all birds and I rinse
everything out fairly regularly.

I checked several state Department of Natural Resources sites and
found that while birds obviously sleep, they are very light sleepers.
I was within inches of the chickadee and it never moved. It seemed
obvious that in such warm weather, no bird’s feathers and down should
be “puffed-up” to protect it from the cold. This is the second reason
I thought it may be sick and found an entry on http://www.birderblog.com
suggesting this symptom may indicate West Nile disease, which is
transmitted by mosquitoes. This has been a summer almost completely
free of mosquitoes but I suppose it is still possible. I have some
clues but no real answers.

My head was about eight inches fromt he chickadee.
My head was about eight inches fromt he chickadee.

Lisa and I went out to the porch and took a few pictures of the
chickadee, one with me in the frame to show how close I was to the
bird. After we went back inside, I really felt like it was sick and
close to death. From its perch, the chickadee would slowly tilt
sideways eventually standing on one leg only with its body almost
parallel with the ground. It would right itself just prior to falling
and hunker down on the feeder. We monitored it over the next half
hour or so and nothing really changed.

It is always at these times that I think about being merciful. We
always hope that God will not give us no more than we can take and we
should extend that same grace to animals in our domain. I decided
that nature should take its course and that since God holds domain
over us it is the same domain in which animals live. He could make
this decision.

Somewhere along the way, the chickadee took flight. I would like to
say this is proof that it was not sick, however I will just hope this
was the situation. Walt Disney taught me that Mother Nature is not
sentimental and that animals and birds sometimes die. Anyway, if the
chickadee had the strength to take flight then perhaps it had the
strength to comfortably live out the day-perhaps it was just a deep
sleeper. I think I will just leave it at that.

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