Monday dawned bright but soon turned sombre when I encountered the study’s first meadowlark (61st species; presumably Eastern) at the northeastern alcove. Worse, it was a baby: HY-U. Worse still: it was alive but mortally wounded and suffering greatly. It was having spasms, was unable to hold its head up, panting heavily, and bleeding through its bill, which was bent at the tip from the collision.
This is the reality of the catastrophic but not immediately fatal injuries that millions of birds endure every year. For those of us who dedicate our time to count them, we must be prepared to come face-to-face with some of our favorite creatures sometimes in the throes of a horrible and painful death. Sometimes we are even faced with the decision to intervene and usher in a more swift and merciful death than the one being endured. So that’s how my Monday morning began: euthanasia via thoracic compression of a baby meadowlark enduring unimaginable pain and fear.
The meadowlark did not recover from its window collision today, and I’m not sure I will either.