Two weeks ago a Northern Flicker came our way. Not being avian savvy, it was first just a bird with a pointy beak and a hurt wing. (We suspected the slinking stray cat in the bushes.) After a day it became clear that Flicker had no intention of winging his way into our hearts and magically healing in the box on our front porch, while ignoring the chicken food and bug offerings we had available. (He should have been eating ants, but I drew the lines at things that could march independently into the house.) So we drove to a bird hospital.
The woman that admitted Flicker flipped him upside down, inspected him and noted not only the wounded wing, but serious bruising and swelling as well. Before the cat, there was some kind of impact, she explained. He seems to have had a very, very bad day, she added. Maybe she said unlucky or maybe I thought it. Regardless, the notion got stuck in my head. Fermenting, wiggling, stirring gently until another way of seeing things occurred to me.
Getting hit, possibly by a car, and then getting attacked, possibly by a cat, really isn’t a great day. Unlucky is one side of the coin for sure. But after that, it falls apart. Flicker survived a punishing blow. Then Flicker survived a predator assault. He might have been finished off by a lawn mower, but a boy happy for diversion was mowing the fence line that day, not an adult determined to finish the job. Another boy, fearless and accustomed to catching all manner of small animals was nearby. Together they secured the bird without further injury. On the following day, a long anticipated, three generation, all family farm work day, the life of a bird might not have trumped the lure of assistance. But it was raining. Every time I looked up to see if it might be clearing, it poured down even harder.
Then there’s the fact that we live in Canada. Not only are there such things as bird hospitals, but there are computers and working internet. For some reason I needed to know conclusively what Flicker was before I agreed to drive an hour to help him. I found bird calls on the internet and played them. When the Northern Flicker calls came on, he called back. Listening to him talk was a convincing argument.
The admitting person told us he might not make it. This weekend I called back with Flicker’s ID number in hand to see what had happened. As it turns out, Flicker had been released back into the wild the day before. While some birds are now privately referring to him as Flicker the Blessed, word has it he’s taken to going by Lucky.