Release.

I didn’t do any rehabbing last night at the raptor center. I had forgotten to email Jodeane earlier in the week to arrange for someone to train me, and I know everybody out there is busy anyway so it was no big deal. Actually, I was kind of relieved that nobody was there to train me, as I was feeling tired and just wanted to feed the four resident owls and go home. So, it all worked out serendipitously. I fed Petra, Cypress, Duke, and Wannago, checked on the flight cage birds (and the American Kestrel yelled at me like usual), and filled the bird blind. One deer came wandering up after I put the millet out, but wouldn’t come up to the actual feeders. She lingered in the background, watching me the whole time but obviously not afraid. She stood chewing her cud quietly, never taking her eyes off me but never attemtping to run either. I waved to her as I left and told her she could come eat.
When I got into the office to get my bucket of mice and cleaning supplies, I saw that the rehab paperwork for the juvenile red-tailed hawk was out on the table and that he had been released yesterday. I felt a multitude of emotions at that point, but was ultimately proud. I was the last person to work with him in the flight cage — the last two times he was rehabbed, I was there doing it. Even though I wasn’t there to see him fly back into the wild, I take great pride in knowing that I had a hand in his successful rehabilitation and subsequent release. He was the first bird I worked with and handled, so I was sad to see him go for that reason. But that’s what rehabbing is all about. The successful release of the animal – while it may be hard after spending time with the bird, learning its personality, holding it against you, and being able to look straight into its eyes – is the goal. These animals don’t want to live in cages, and nobody should want them to live in cages. I know that partly because of me, that hawk was able to survive his injury and return to his true home. And it feels good.
Godspeed, little hawk! It was a pleasure meeting you, and may I just say thank you for allowing me to help you heal.
One thing that always surprises me, even after a year and a half, is how the raptor center relaxes me. Last night before I headed out there, I was agitated, tired, grouchy, and feeling rushed. I didn’t know if anybody was going to be out there to train me, so I wasn’t sure how long I’d be gone. I was hungry and my leg muscles were tired from riding my bike home. I was feeling like I had a million things to do and too little time to do them in. So, long story short, I was kind of – ahem – owly and irritated.

As soon as I arrived at the MRP and walked down the long path leading from the parking area to the actual bird enclosures, my mood completely changed. I felt very peaceful and calm, and enjoyed the quiet of the woods and the beautiful evening. I was happy to see all the birds, as I always am, and when I saw that I was alone out there I breathed a sigh of relief – I could do the feeding, meander around a bit, and head home. A family of four came by the cages as I was feeding Cypress the barred owl, but they kept to themselves and weren’t a disturbance at all. Turns out they were mushroom hunting, so I hope they had good luck and enjoyed the birds at the same time.

I always like standing in the bird blind area for a while after I put out the food for the deer, and just keep quiet and watch the trees and listen to the wildlife. Once I stand still for a minute or two, all the songbirds return to the feeders and oftentimes squirrels, deer, and even raccoons come up to eat. I try to remain as still as possible so as not to disturb them but if they appear at all agitated, I leave. I told Heather and Ryan the other night (after several glasses of wine) that standing in the bird blind like that and being surrounded by life in all forms is when I feel “God.” Not “God” like some bearded dude on a cloud or some guy hanging on a cross, but “God” as the energy that flows through all living things and composes the universe. It’s like church and therapy and a physics class all rolled into one.

And then, after having released my anxiety and irritability, I went home.

***

I stopped on my way out of the Macbride Nature Area and snapped some photos of the high lake level. It looked like a swamp. Visit my Flickr page for more.

 

 

 

 

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One Response to “Release.”

  1. I feel the same way about “god” when I am out hiking and just being in nature. Until the bugs bite me!

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