Saving a Bird – And the World – In Three Easy Steps

A bird flew into our window today.

I was sitting at our kitchen counter when I heard a thud. I looked up to see something falling to the ground and a flurry of feathers floating in the air.

Damn. That had to hurt.

I apprehensively opened the sliding glass door and stepped onto the deck, concerned about what I might find. Would it be a dead, disfigured carcass over which I would feel both heartbreak and disgust at the idea of having to dispose of it? Would it be a pissed off fowl ready to come at me as revenge for my ill-placed kitchen window? Thankfully, it was neither. What I found was a brilliantly beautiful bird sitting on my deck almost motionlessly, trying to figure out what the f*ck just happened to him.

Through exhaustive research (which consisted of whatever pictures came up when I searched “red bird with black wings and tail”), my best educated guess is that the bird is a scarlet tanager. Any ornithologists out there, of either the degreed or armchair variety, are welcome to correct me if I am wrong. For most intents and purposes, I’m cool with just calling it “pretty bird.”

I know the feeling, Tweety. A few months ago, I pulled a real smooth move by not paying attention to where I was walking, taking a misstep off a curb, and slamming my knees into the pavement at full impact. Then I continued my sound decision-making by popping up real quick and bee-lining to my car like I was totally okay, which resulted in my blood pressure plummetting and me passing out in my driver’s seat (thankfully before I had begun driving). When I came to, I felt like I’d been hit by a mack truck as I tried to piece everything together.

So I couldn’t help but feel I knew what the little guy was experiencing at that very moment.  And I wanted to help him. I quickly googled what to do with a bird who just flew into a window. Step 1: Cover it with a towel. Step 2: Gently place it in a box with air holes. Step 3: Keep it in a dark, quiet, dry place so it can rest.

I went to get a box from the basement, where my husband was working out. I told him what had happened, what needed to be done, and that we should check on the bird every thirty minutes to see if it was ready to fly away on its own. If it remained unable after several hours, we should call a wildlife rescue.

“That seems like a little much just to save a bird,” my husband said as he handed me a box.

Now, those of you who know my husband are aware that the man is one of the most considerate people you will meet. He routinely goes out of his way to help others. In fact, I am always being told, “Your husband is the nicest guy,” and “Kurt is the best.”  My ringtone for him is actually a recording of people praising him: “Kurtis is perfect.” “Kurtis IS perfect.” “We love Kurtis.” (Granted, my husband himself made this my ringtone after he recorded it from one of his favorite radio shows. They were not actually talking about him.) It’s like, I get it, people. He’s a freaking saint. Blah, blah, blah. BUT DID YOU KNOW HE’S COOL WITH LETTING AN INNOCENT BIRD DIE? Sorry, but I felt like the veil needed to be ripped off. It’s better to really know who your idols are, warts and all.

I mean, is it really THAT much? To take a couple minutes to check on a little bird every now and again, and make one phone call if need be? No, it’s not.

So we got the bird in the box. After a half hour, I checked on him. His eyes were closed. He wasn’t moving. My heart sank.

But then his eyes popped open as if to say, “Psych! I was just joshin’ ya!” But he was still groggy and listless. The only movement he made was when his eyes slowly shut again and his head began drooping heavily. I closed the flaps of the box to let him rest some more, and whispered some hushed encouragement.

About forty-five minutes later, I was getting ready to check on him again when I saw my husband walking in from the deck, box in hand.

“He flew away?!”

“I guess so. I went out and the box was empty. He must be fine now.”

I don’t want to be overdramatic, but I felt like a damn hero. Like, if I had video chronicled this whole thing, it probably would have gone viral. I bet the next time I walk out onto my deck, my little bird friend is going to fly over and perch on my finger in gratitude for saving his life. We will become best friends, and our unlikely bond will rival the one between that super old guy and his little kid neighbor who made the world cry when the kid had to move away and they couldn’t cut the grass together anymore.

More than that, it feels like the universe was teaching me (and my bird-apathetic husband) a lesson: It often doesn’t take much effort to make a big impact on another life. 

Complimenting a job well done. Checking in on a friend with a quick text. Calling your grandma once a week. Stopping a global pandemic.

Wait, what? You heard me right. It doesn’t take much effort to stop a global pandemic…at least, not on the Average Joe’s part anyway.

Step 1: Wash your hands frequently. Step 2: Maintain six feet of distance from anyone you don’t live with. Step 3: Wear a mask in public.

We all have the chance right now as our world begins to reopen to do a small thing and make a big impact on other lives, including our own. Do you want to be the person who looks at what is being asked of them and says, isn’t that a little much?  Who may end up having to face a dead bird on the deck and the question of whether the outcome could have been different had you acted otherwise? Or do you want to be the person who made the small effort, making it possible for the bird to be protected until it is able to fly freely again?

And if you’re like my husband, and birds don’t quite tug at your heartstrings, at least be the kind of stand-up human he is and realize it might matter to people you love…and do it anyway.

Kurtis is perfect. We love Kurtis.


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4 thoughts on “Saving a Bird – And the World – In Three Easy Steps

  1. Oh Kelly…that was wonderful! WTDM (Wear the damn mask)!

    On Mon, May 18, 2020 at 5:41 PM Are You Finished Yet? wrote:

    > Kelly Suellentrop posted: “A bird flew into our window today. I was > sitting at our kitchen counter when I heard a thud. I looked up to see > something falling to the ground and a flurry of feathers floating in the > air. Damn. That had to hurt. I apprehensively opened the slid” >


  2. This once happened to me with a nest of baby squirrels and the dead mom squirrel who fell from the tree!! Omg life lessons for sure…I truly thought it wad a mission from God to test me! So I can relate. Great work and great thoughts, Mrs Perfect!! 😘


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