The Recovering Sparrow
— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. —
It’s been snowing and snowing here—a welcome event as that is a normal winter for us. It is what life is adapted to here. Snow insulates the ground and the roots of the trees from the cold. The voles burrow along under the snow in long tunnels, feeding the magnificent great gray owls that come every winter. It gives us our water in the spring as it seeps into the aquifer below, nurturing plant life along the way.
However, for one unfortunate sparrow, plump and lazy from the easy pickings of stealing the chicken’s food, the snow was not a blessing. As the snow accumulates on the red metal roof above the horse, buffalo, and burro hay, suddenly something gives and avalanches of snow come thundering down, sometimes 3-4 feet high. Keri, our animal caretaker, had just shoveled her way to the hay when it happened again. She put in her shovel, flinging the snow to her right. Something caught her eye: a small brown form was lying limp, half buried in the snow she had just shoveled. She had unknowingly dug out a sparrow that had been buried as the snow came crashing down. The little bird was in shock, and cold. Holding it close to her chest, she could feel it’s little heart beating wildly. She brought it into the office. We brought in a small cage, which we lined with warmed hay, and put our special warming pad in the microwave. Everything was ready and cozy. As Keri loosed her grip to put it in the cage it gave a mighty thrust and burst out of her hands, flying wildly around the cabin until it found the open door and shot out like an arrow. A survivor…
Today we had to tattoo our young wolves as required by our license. Mind you, these two pups are “owned” by the adults here, Kenai, Tanaka and Jezebel, even though they are not related. When the vet began to tranquilize and shave a bit of their inner thigh to receive the tattoo, the adults went crazy. They are harming our babies! I reassured them as the vet worked and it calmed them a bit as they saw that I, a pack leader, wasn’t upset. But they continued to race back and forth trying to get to him. He would not have been safe… The bonds are so very strong between wolves.
Is Humble Bumble Finally Asleep?
Maybe Humble Bumble doesn’t like his paws wet. We haven’t seen much of him since the snows.
The Need for Touch and Affection Overpowers All
Hope is adapting well to time indoors. Only the carpets and certain apparently irresistible furniture corners are suffering. He is quite pleased with the new arrangement, walking around in wonder, and then standing still asking for petting, which he accepts with a sort of dignified reserve covering his intense need and pleasure.
Beauty, Peace and Work
The snow fell softly all night. In the morning all was white, peaceful and beautiful. It meant no one could come to help us shovel and take care of the animals, but it was white, peaceful and beautiful. The wolves are leaping and twirling in the fluffy white stuff. It seems to be universal, the urge to play in the snow.
Dr. Susan Eirich is the Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, her goal is to widen the circle of conversation about conservation to include the voices of all living beings.