Ah, he’s doing much better today, not like yesterday when I picked him up, poor thing lying on the side of the road, holes in his wings, feathers covered in dirt, talons grasping air. Thank God that runner found him and called the clinic — he looked like some kind of toy a child left behind — I’d never seen an eagle with those colors before, but he was no toy, he was the real thing.

Look at him, poking at the holes. Not sure where those came from, although I suspect they’re bullet holes — some trigger-happy yahoos must have been hunting. Hear them at the donut shop all the time — ”Damn birds eating all the fish! — How we spose to fish if there ain’t no fish?” Cowards! They shoot these poor defenseless creatures, then run. Bastards know it’s illegal to shoot them, same jokers who shoot at eagles — the symbol of our country — are the same ones who claim to be real patriots, lash out against the liberals, though maybe they didn’t know he was an eagle, maybe his weird colors threw them off. Still, didn’t see any powder on his wings, what else could’ve caused it? Hopefully Fish and Wildlife will find out, either way, poor thing’s not gonna be able to fly for a little while.

But at least no fractures were found in the x-rays, so that’s good. He’s probably gonna stay in the cage for a few more days and rest, eat, take antibiotics, then move to the flight pen that’s a hundred-feet wide, then go back into nature. It’s getting close to the end of the year, so it’d be great to send him out on New Year’s Day — wouldn’t that be something? Start off 2018 with the freedom to do whatever he wants, a whole year — maybe the rest of his damn life — being able to soar the clouds and eat squirrels, rabbits, all the fish he wants — wish I could too, wish I could take to the open sky, live off the land, soar over mountains —

Can’t get over these colors: browns and different shades of green and spots of blue all over the place —

Gently gently out the cage — “Don’t worry, I’m not gonna hurt you,” let’s see, over here on the left wing — imagine the bullet holes gone — yeah yeah yeah, these brown shapes kind of look like mountains, just as you see out west, your torso is nothing but light green, though there’s some darker green along the edge of your stomach here, those blue spots up there must be rivers, lakes — shaped like the Great Lakes here in the Midwest — same for the right wing but with more of the dark greens — Green Mountains, Vermont — yes, yes, this is some kind of map of the US. Map on a bird — ain’t that something. When he’s back in the air, seventy-five miles off the ground, going twenty miles per hour, no one will be able to read it.

Best show the boss — gently gently in the cage.

Yep, he’s one lucky bird — if he wasn’t so close to our treatment center, he would’ve died for sure.

What the — ? What’s that — clawing the cage? Wasn’t doing that before. “No, no, don’t put your beak there, you can’t eat the cage.” He wants to get out, hopefully he will, soon, but he needs to rest now, if he keeps doing that, he won’t get better, he’ll spend the new year in here, I’ll be stuck here with him.