Five minutes ago, I put another bird in the dumpster. My second one this year.
Today, on my way home from work, I was driving along when I saw a creature hit my car's grill. I thought it was a large insect. I've had moths show up on my grill before, so I didn't think much of it.
When I got home, I hurried inside to let my dog outside. I walked past my car without a second thought. Upon my retreat indoors, however, I saw it. A small bird lodged between the grill and the hood of my car, its tiny head pinched near the latch release at the very center of the front of the car.
I dropped my dog's leash and cried out.
I hadn't considered it could've been a bird that I hit, but there it was. Lifeless, drooping in front of the chrome grill.
I took a picture. After I took my dog inside and wiped my tears, I decided that before I cleaned anything up that I would take a photo. Yes, I captured the gruesome image digitally. Why? Because it's just so strange. So unreal. I hadn't thought such a thing could happen, yet there it was in front of me. Peaceful, unbloody, accidental death. View the image at your own risk. *Warning: Some may consider it gruesome.*
Then came the difficult part. I unlocked my car, popped the hood latch, and—nearly inaudibly—the bird fell to the gravel. I looked at his poor, lifeless body and cried. I said I was sorry, that I didn't mean to hurt him. I sobbed as scooped his body into the bags I had wrapped around my hands. I apologized again as I processed to the dumpster, weeping, and laid him to rest.
Flash back to three months ago when I was living with my grandparents while recovering from surgery. One Sunday evening in April, we drove to my house to pick up my mail. I unlocked my house for the first time in three weeks.
Grandma helped me carry a few things inside while my grandfather parked the car. She commented on how clean my house was. I explained that I had cleaned with vengeance before going to the hospital. She said I kept my house as neat as she did (a compliment).
I inhaled. I didn't like what I smelled. Yes, my house was clean, but it didn't smell clean. (I couldn't expect grandma to comment on the smell of my house because she can't smell at all thanks to a concussion she got when she was quite young.)
My nose is quite sensitive, but this wasn't a good smell. It smelled faintly like something dead. I began sniffing around, not unlike a bloodhound (except that I remained walking on two feet while smelling).
My nose led me from my kitchen to my basement, and in the basement I found a dead blackbird square in the middle of the floor. I gasped, then went upstairs. Grandma asked if I found the source. As I grabbed a large plastic shopping bag and my snow shovel, I said that I had.
With my snow shovel covered in plastic, I scooped up the bird. I turned the bag inside out to enclose his body and tied the bag shut. Then I walked unceremoniously to the dumpster, tears in my eyes, wondering how a bird ever got in my basement.
I told my landlord the next day. He said it was possible that the screen he attached to the flue of my chimney had fallen down inside, what with all the snow we had this winter. The poor bird must have fallen down the chimney and gotten trapped. Not knowing how he came in, he didn't know how to get out, and he died a prisoner of my basement. My landlord fixed the chimney while I continued recovering at grandma's, but the thought of the poor trapped bird still haunts me.
My dead bird tally for the year is two. Please, God, let it stop at two. I love birds and accidental deaths are tortuous for the mind to ponder.