Saturday, August 20, 2011

Angry Bird - The Evening Grosbeak

They say a bird in hand is worth two in the bush but sometimes a bird in hand is worth a bite to the face.

My recent trip to Vermont had me reminiscing about an incident that occurred in nearly the exact spot where I saw last week’s Porcupine. In the summer of 2005, as I made my way through the hilly roads up to Plymouth, I spotted what looked like a piece of litter in the road. As I drove closer I recognized it was a bird and it wasn’t going anywhere. I stopped, waved cars around it and carefully picked up a dazed and confused Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinu) that had no doubt been struck by a car.

Evening Grosbeaks are members of the finch family and as the name might imply, especially to the French of which it derived, they have “large beaks”. Grosbeaks have the largest bill of the finches and feed on insects and seeds. The bill is strong enough to crack open the toughest of nuts. They also have been known to feed on roadside dirt and gravel to obtain minerals. Since roadside dirt is located near roads you can imagine the fate that often becomes of these birds.

I just happened to be heading to a bird rehab center where I worked at the time. I scooped the frazzled flyer up, put it on the seat of my truck and put my hat over it, noting to myself that the towel I should always have for these instances was nowhere to be found. While driving down the road I heard a few peeps from under the hat and decided to check on the poor thing. I lifted up the hat and maybe it is post-traumatic stress but I distinctly remember seeing flames shooting from the bird’s eyes and foam coming from its mouth as it flew at me.

It bit me on the face.

Imagine the power needed to crack open the hardest seed, unleashed on the softest skin on your face! 

I grabbed the bird, which quickly let go of my face and bit my finger. In agony – I swerved to the side of the road, jumped out and desperately shook my hand trying to unleash this angry bird.

It let go and flew off with vicious determination. It had escaped its horrible captor.

No good deed goes unpunished and I had a V-shaped wound on my cheek to prove it. 

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