The woods surrounding my home are teeming with wildlife: deer, birds, squirrels and the occasional bear or coyote. They’ve become part of the landscape, blending into the snow-covered trees in the winter and the bubbling streams in the summer.
I didn’t know any of them. Until the other day.
The day was wintry with a broad blanket of snow covering the ground. It was quiet and warm inside the house, my family engrossed in their own personal, solo activities.
But then a loud thud interrupted the peace. A wild bird had crashed into the window in the sunroom. As we watched him through the window, lying on his back in the snow — we thought he was dead — he suddenly flipped himself right-side-up. His tiny feathery face was covered in snow and a pile of grayish, downy feathers were scattered around him.
I immediately braved the cold and went outside, and gently picked him up. He didn’t struggle; he had nearly knocked himself unconscious. I placed him inside a cardboard box with some towels for warmth. I then placed the box on the porch and waited.
During that time, my curiosity got to me, so I did some research. I downloaded a bird identification app, and deduced his breed as a Varied Thrush.
For some reason, knowing that expanded my hope all the more that he would survive.
A few hours later, when I went to check on the thrush, he wasn’t in the box. I glanced around and noticed him sitting on the post, just a few feet from his recovery spot. I quickly left him alone so as not to stress him. Then, as I watched from the window, he looked around a couple of times, then flew off into the trees with his thrush buddy.
I love nature, but I know nothing. I can’t name one of the variety of trees on our property. I’m not a wildlife expert; I can’t tell a red squirrel from a brown squirrel.
But now I see varied thrushes everywhere. I recognize their distinctive markings (black breast band and orange eyebrows) and am familiar with their diet and song (I researched them while I was waiting for my thrush to recover). They’re ubiquitous in the trees and yard around my house.
Life is like that sometimes, isn’t it? It creates a situation that forces you to take notice.
Before, a bird was a bird was a bird.
Now, there are birds, and some of them are varied thrushes.
How has a situation or another person caused you to change your perspective on something? When has life forced you to consider something from another point of view? What has made you notice something “new” that has been right in front of you all along?
Other times, in a way, life forces you to take action. You experience a major event, something positive or something traumatic, and it feeds your need to write, to paint, to create. It’s been widely accepted, whether true or not, that the best writers, poets and other artists have obtained their genius through adversity and suffering.
I’m not sure I agree with this. I don’t think everyone needs a kick in the pants or to encounter hardship to wake the senses or become a brilliant artist. But I’m guessing many of us do, at least sometimes. I know I do.
That’s what a little-varied thrush taught me.