I guess I should just admit it.
I have a thing for birds.
Nothing weird — I just like them.
This must explain why I keep taking pictures of waterfowl and various feathered friends when I go out running in nature with buddy boy.
And it explains why last year, when running by myself, I rescued a goose that just got whomped by an SUV.
This came up recently. I was chatting with nanny, who has a soft spot for animals.
She rescued a flea-bitten kitty she found flopping around on the street.
I feel ya, I said.
“Last year I put a goose in my minivan.”
“Yes. It shat all over the seats, ruining the upholstery.”
I had been running when I came upon a macabre scene. I watched an SUV blow through two geese ambling across the road. It sped off, leaving one goose middle of the road, it’s brains splattered, an eyeball knocked out of its socket. The animal shivered and shuddered and shook. Death throes.
Nearby, its stunned goose friend just sat, thrown off into the grass near a little pond. At the edge of the pond, cattails and a waterfowl sanctuary sign. Goose No. 2’s wing was bloody, but otherwise it looked OK. It didn’t move or flap when I stood right next to it. Naturally, I ran back to my minivan, drove it to the goose. Goose let me pick it up. What a docile creature!
I named it Gus. Obviously.
Gus the docile goose and I made our way south to the animal shelter in OKC.
‘Cept then the goose Gus kinda started to come to. Gus became aware he was in the back of a minivan. This angered him.
Every time I stopped at a light — HONK HONK HONK FLAP FLAP FLAP Gus went.
There we a lot of lights.
I got lost on the way to the animal shelter.
I had to take the long way.
Gus was going to peck my eyes out! We were going to be on When Animals Attack XXV!
“You’re really surprising sometimes,” nanny said.
She was doing that Southern woman thing – instead of saying something rude — for instance, calling me a total lunatic — she offered a neutral, delicate and lovely thought that left me feeling rather charmed.
Why, yes, I am rather surprising sometimes.
The gals down here are good at that. We could all learn a thing or two from Southern ladies.
The end of that story is, Gus went from the animal shelter to an organization called the WildCare Foundation, where he recovered. I later called to check in — the organization released Gus back into the wild. He was a brand new Goose.
The end of nanny’s story is – her flea-bitten kitten is now flea-free and living a life of kitty luxury in nanny’s duplex with a boxer mix named Banksy.
These days, I run with my son, and I stop to take pictures of birds with my iPhone.
Yes, it is my fate to grow old, wear pro-bird T-shirts and attend community action meetings regarding alarming village lawn mowing practices that disrupt the habitat of local prairie fowl. I will wear Birkenstocks, with socks maybe. I will join the Audubon Society. It is written.
My grandpa was a card-carrying member. He had books of JA’s bird sketches.
Ya know, John Audubon — ever heard of him?
NO? Well look him up, for Pete’s sake.
OK. It started with gramps and the JA coffee table books. But before goose rescue, I teamed up with a college student and rescued another bird, in Ann Arbor. This bird couldn’t walk. It was a federally protected species that had goo stuck on its legs called Tanglefoot. Tanglefoot is used by building owners to keep nuisance birds from perching and pooing, messing up the aesthetic.
The product grounded a poor little house finch.
Why do I know this?
There, fine, you’ve found my weakness — distressed birds. Now I feel vulnerable.
There’s just something incredibly depressing about a wild bird that can’t fly. I can’t walk away!
Now, I’m off to pick up my daughter from preschool, and, maybe, find a onesie for Eli emblazoned with a bald Eagle in its full glory. An American flag in the background would be a bonus…maybe we’ll luck out and find glorious bald Eagle T-shirts for the whole family…
In the mean time, here are photos of my morning run, brought to you by the fact my daughter is now in preschool!
Behold, the Oklahoma state bird: the scissortail. I wish I could have gotten closer, but this’ll do for today.