People who have known me a while understand how much I like birds. At the local park, I take bags of bread crumbs and feed the pigeons. It's a relaxing activity that takes my mind off the stresses of the day. Often there's a pure white dove mixed in with this flock. He is larger and stands out among the pigeons. I have nicknamed him "El Espíritu Santo" since in art, the Holy Spirit is often depicted as a dove. He has become a favorite and I always look for him when visiting the park. (Look carefully, that's him in the center of the photo, taken August 2017)
On January 14, 2018, my husband went for a walk. It was close to 8:00 pm, way past the time when all pigeons fly up to roost. So he was surprised to come across Espíritu Santo, seated on the ground near a corner store. He didn't fly away when approached, but also didn't take any bread crumbs. Then my husband saw the blood.
The dove had been attacked! Luckily we had a bird cage at home (from rescuing another bird last fall) and I came out with gloves, a towel, and the cage. Catching him was easy because he offered zero resistance. Once we got him home we consulted the most excellent Wild Bird Fund for advice and direction.
We caught Espíritu Santo on Sunday evening, and the Wild Bird Fund opened at 8:00 am Monday morning, so our job was to make him as comfortable as possible and pray he lasted the night. We made a donut shape out of a rolled towel and placed him on it, along with a cup of water within easy reach. We talked to him a little. Then we turned down the lights and placed a towel over his cage to let him sleep. The rest of the evening we talked in hushed tones- all because of a bird!
It might seem silly, but for me this was very important. My husband and I knew this bird- we saw him in the flock often. We would go on walks looking for him- I would say "let's go find the Holy Spirit!" (because har har, very funny). It's a curious thing that this specific bird should get injured and that my husband should come across him right when he needed help. I prayed a lot that night. If he were to die, at least it would be somewhere warm and comfortable.
Thankfully, he survived the night, and early Monday morning we drove to the Wild Bird Fund in order to get there when they opened at 8. The workers there were very friendly and took him in with no problem. When a worker took him out of the cage, we could get a good look at his injuries. They appeared to be light puncture wounds on his right wing and right side of his body.
Sadly, heart breakingly, the Wild Bird fund told me on Wednesday Jan 17 that they had to humanely euthanize this dear bird. I was very surprised because I thought she would pull through! They told me his (actually "her") wing was infected, was broken and had had a previous injury that didn't heal properly. They said her quality of life would be poor even if she did survive these injuries.
I have no choice but to take them at their word. I don't dare put my needs above the dove's health and comfort. I know that if she was in pain and suffering, then its better this way. But when I left her on Monday, I didn't even properly say goodbye, just handed her over and left quickly because the meter on the car was expiring. I miss Espíritu Santo terribly and am surprised at how hard I'm taking it. She was the best thing about our neighborhood, and the world is drabber and gloomier with her absence.