Dead things

Aug 25 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

 It really is amazing what people will bring into your office some days. Last week, one of the janitorial staff came into my office early in the morning with a bunch of paper towels in her hand. Immediately, I knew that she was bringing me something dead, the only question was which species the carcass belonged to. In fact, it was a hummingbird that had met an unfortunate end against one of the many glass panels of our building. I presented the body of the bird in the hopes that someone might want to use it in some way, particularly because it was "still warm". I did not verify the temperature of the corpse, but I also didn't have much of a choice in accepting the bird and pledging to ensure that it did not die in vain. 
The problem, of course, is that I have less than no use for dead birds, so I sent an email to two people who I thought might all the while assuming that I would have to chuck the thing by lunch time (realizing that I had to throw it out in anther building, lest I be caught by the woman who gave it to me and empties the trash in this building). Much to my surprise, I found a taker who planned to make it into a "bird on a stick". Alrighty then. Upon reporting this back to the janitor, she was pleased that I found a home for it. 

Fresh of this experience, I was on the phone this morning and witnessed a bird thwack against the glass wall by a set of doors. Curious, I went to see what kind of bird was laying on the pavement and it turned out to be another hummingbird (which makes me think we really need to get something on those windows to stop the devastation of the hummingbird population here). It was laying still, one wing outstretched and tongue hanging out like a cartoon parody of bird death. Rather than leave it there at the entrance that every campus tour comes into, I dutifully gathered some paper towels and picked it up with the plan to deliver it to the recipient of the previous one. 

When I picked it up it made a bit of a squeak and I realized it wasn't quite dead yet. Now the situation changed to having an almost dead bird, likely with a broken neck, held between paper towels and I was faced with the dilemma of leaving the bird to a protracted death outside or taking action to hasten the process. Not sure what to do, I took the bird back to my office, assuming it would expire along the way. But no, the damn thing started staring at me and blinking. When I moved it too much it would squeak, I assumed from pain. Not good, what to do? Having a bird die on your desk has to have some karmic consequences in some belief system. 

Unwilling to put the bird out of it's misery, I brought it back outside with the hope that it might surprise me and Rise and Walk, my son! I went to place it on the ground in the bushes, and to my surprise, it flew away as soon as I released it from it's papery confines. I guess it was only stunned and needed about 20 minutes and a walk through building to come around but I was about 2 minutes away from accidentally releasing an angry and confused humming bird in my office. That would have been a good way to spice up the morning. 

No more dead or almost dead things in my office. 

7 responses so far

  • Professor in Training says:

    Hmmm ... maybe it was just resting.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    I was thinking more of the "I'm not dead yet" scene from the Holy Grail.

  • MOD.cur says:

    If this happens again and your U has an ornithology class, check with that prof. When I took ornithology as an undergrad part of the course was preparing and stuffing "roadkill" birds. The prof had a permit allowing him to collect and keep birds found dead.

  • PUI prof says:

    Egads. I once saw a squirrel fall out of a tree and look very dazed. I was going to rescue it, but glad I didn't. As I approached, it got up and ran away...

  • drdrA says:

    I always pick them up and gently set them upright in my hand. About 2/3 of the time they are just stunned and need to be kept warm for a few minutes until they get their bearings again! They are small and they lose body heat very very quickly!

  • Candid Engineer says:

    Sounds like you helped the bird out! Too bad about the perpetual glass carnage.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    This thing looked way more than stunned and it took about 20 minutes before it crossed the line between looking like it was goning to die and having a shot. In the end, it was probably better off on my desk than in front of a door on concrete, but I'm glad it didn't decide to fly around my office.

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