Burying a baby woodpecker

I just buried a baby woodpecker. The tears on my cheeks are still wet just. I had looked out my window and it was clinging to my suet block, bundled up in its down, trembling. I ran downstairs to check on it, and it didn’t budge when I opened the door to my deck where the suet block hung.

I went back inside, searched for information on what to do. What I found was to observe and see if the parents were around before doing anything. There in the trees near the suet was another downy woodpecker, so I waited. After finding the number for a local wildlife specialist, I went back to check on the baby. It was gone and I was ecstatic, thinking it had flown back to its nest.

I checked the ground below the suet and found the baby… It was still alive so I rushed to put together a cardboard box with airholes and a towel in the bottom. Those scant moments between were too long. I found the little bird curled in a dirt divot, eyes open but no movement.

Would it still be alive if I had acted sooner? If I had gotten it as soon as it had fallen off the suet? So many questions with no answer. So many questions that mean nothing. The answers cannot change anything now.

This, I suppose, is part of what I wrote about not running yesterday. Face the consequences of our actions or inactions, of momentary hesitations. Face the sorrows that come with life, and by extension death.

Under maple trees, a baby woodpecker sleeps. Sleep and dream of flying, little one. The snowflakes have tucked you in…

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