the corridor and the dying robin


the corridor and the dying robin

the corridor

Pretty much every day I walk in a little park across the street from my home. This is a lovely forested area right along the Puget Sound, and from the shoreline you can see Seattle and (if it’s clear) Mt. Rainier.

There’s one point where I need to walk though a series of little league baseball diamonds, and the path goes between the outfield fence of the biggest field, and a wall of thorny blackberry bushes. On the way back home on June 19th, I emerged from a dark section of forest and entered that long corridor between the fence and the bushes. Stepping into the sunlight I saw a robin on the path, and I knew something was wrong.

It was twitching on the grass as I approached. I stepped closer, and it awkwardly hopped toward me and laid down on my left foot. Her head was dangling down in a gruesome way. She must have flown into the fence and broken her neck. It was awful to see.

She lay still on my foot for maybe fifteen seconds, and then shuddered and hopped away. She couldn’t control anything, she was trying to hop and fly, but neither was working.

I spoke to this bird, and told her I could end her pain. I’ve had cats all my life, and there have been plenty of times I’ve needed to kill mice and small birds. I’ve done it a lot, but have never gotten used to it.

I hike here often and knew there was a spot nearby with some pallets and scraps of wood. I quickly walked there and found a flat section of wood with a sharp edge and a baseball sized rock.

I returned and spoke to the bird, “I can end this suffering if you want.”

It sat still and let me approach, but when I touched her she shuddered and hopped away, her head hanging upside down at her breast. This was awful for me.

At one point she stopped and sat on the grass. I got on my knees next to her with the piece of wood and the rock. I couldn’t do anything, her head was hidden under her body, and I tried to gently lift her, but she fluttered off a few feet and crashed into the ground. I spoke again, “If you you want me to end your pain I will, please let me know what I should do.”

With that she staggered into the dense blackberry bushes and I lost sight of her. This was terribly emotional, and part of me wished I hadn’t hesitated—that I’d just killed her.

I set the piece of wood and rock along the bottom of the fence and continued home.

The next day I went back on the same walk, and made my way down that corridor between the blackberries and the outfield fence. I slowed as I approached the area where I’d seen the robin. And I found her. She was lying dead on top of the rock and wood with her head hidden from view, tucked gently between them. Her pose was peaceful.

the robin as I found her, lying between the wood and stone

This was about thirty feet from where I’d last seen her disappear into the bushes the day before. She was lying on the tools of death that I had been unable to use. What happened? Why did she seek out this spot to die?

how I set the wood and stone against the outfield fence

I carried her into the dark woods and stepped off the path. I dug a shallow hole with my hands and buried her in the forrest duff under large cedar tree. I spoke a quiet prayer and apologized that I wasn’t strong enough the day before. My last words were: “Fly free.”

*     *     *

This was an adult female robin, without the strong red coloring of the males. This is why I called her she.

Also, this happened in the final days of editing Joshua Cutchin’s powerful series of books, Ecology of Souls. This is a wide ranging study of the connection between death and the UFO lore. I had this powerful experience with a bird wile in the throes of a project entirely about death.


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