Forever ago, maybe 20 years gone, I met a gentle old man on Columbus Day while on my way to work in Boston - right along the commuter rail tracks where the trains empty out at South Station. He was desperately trying to find help for a pigeon with a broken wing he'd found, and rescued, when he saw it couldn’t fly. As I spoke with him, together we tried to come up with a plan for what to do next. But eventually, he told me (as he held the bird quietly and softly in his hands), it was time for me to go. He sent me off with a smile, and a promise that he’d figure something out. He assured me the bird was safe with him. And he told me I should be getting off to work, as I was probably late by now for having stopped to chat with him (which, I suppose, was true).
So, I did the only thing I could think of to help. I bought him coffee and a sandwich (because he'd mentioned he was hungry and I figured trying to stand in line for a bagel while holding an injured pigeon didn’t really sound practical). And I delivered the meal along with the deep sweet hope that the story might somehow have a happy ending. I've never forgotten either of them. When I got to work that morning, before I did a thing, I sat down at my computer and wrote the story of what I’d just seen. I had to get it out - it was so beautiful. I still have it, somewhere. He was such a gentle, giving soul…and the generosity he was showing that bird, the two of them together, it just killed me.
On Tuesday, I saw a simple plea: RIDE NEEDED. An injured pigeon in NH needed a ride to a wonderful woman here in town - a licensed wildlife rehabilitator - where the proper care could be provided. It was time to come full circle. I was about to become a pigeon’s UBER.
Last night, I happily got in my car and drove to meet a man in a parking lot and pick up a pigeon. It briefly occurred to me that the only thing I knew about him was his phone number. But, I figured, any person who would take the time and effort to help mitigate a pigeon’s pain rates as a good soul in my book. And I was right. Though this guy was much younger than the man I’d met so many years ago, he too was incredibly kind. And also just as generous. As he lifted the towel off the cage where the little gray bird sat quietly, I asked him…’did you give the bird a name?’.
Yes, he said.
He’d named it ‘Icarus’.
"I’m kind of a bird enthusiast" he told me.
Me too, my friend. Me too. :)
He did the hard part - he rescued the bird, kept him safe, and figured out how to help. And now the rehab will begin - also the very hard part. All I did was drive my car to the woman who could help - and try to make the bird’s ride to safety as enjoyable and stress free as possible (though there may have been some singing as we drove, I don't think Icarus much minded).
Still, I’d like to think that in every situation there are ways, both big and small, to make a difference. It felt so very good to be even the tiniest player on this little team. So easy to help, and so happy to be able to do it - both for this guy and this bird, and to honor the memory of that dear bird the man and I couldn't save years so many years ago.
Wildlife needs help too, and I’m so grateful for the incredible work that Cape Ann Wildlife does. Check out their site (or find them on Facebook) - and if you want to help make a difference, consider making a donation to them if you can. Every little bit helps! http://www.caw2.org/
So there it is. An UBER for Icarus.
Feel better, sweet bird…small victories (for pigeons and people) for the win!
Postscript: the bird recovered and was joyfully released back into the wild! Good luck out there Icarus - we're pulling for you!