I know you animal lovers will struggle alongside me with this animal story.
From the clear red color of the blood I could tell the woodpecker had been hit only minutes before I found it sitting upright, motionless, in the middle of the road. What should I do? I figured I had three options: keep driving, take the bird to an animal rescue center, or move the injured being off the road to a protected place in nature.
Left alone in the center of the road, the bird would probably be killed by the next car.
2. Take the bird to a wildlife rescue center-
Was the place open on Sundays? If it was open, would the additional stress from a thirty minute drive to the center kill the traumatized creature? On the other hand, if the bird did make it there alive, and if the center was open, the injured woodpecker had the possibility of being treated. But then what kind of life would it have?
3. Move the stunned creature off the road, into a protected area-
This is the choice I made. Cupping the red headed beauty in my hands, I carried it out of the road, and placed it on the grass under a tree. As I backed away, the frightened being cocked its head awkwardly, straining to watch me with one eye. Then I noticed it’s other eye was damaged and bleeding. Afraid, it instinctively tried to fly, but couldn’t. Upset and not wanting to scare it further, I chose to walk away, and let nature take its course.
* * *
My soul is still heavy with questions. Did I do the right thing? Was the bird’s fate sealed before I came along? Would it have been able to live a normal life if it was treated? Have years spent in the African bush hardened me? I have witnessed over and over the harsh realities of predator/prey relationships amongst African wildlife. Babies get separated from their mothers making them vulnerable to sure death. Injured animals die a long slow death. The guides tell us this is nature’s way and we don’t interfere with nature.
When the damage is caused by a human, as in the case with this woodpecker, aren’t we humans obliged to offer help in the best way we can? What would you have done to make this animal story turn out differently?
On a lighter note you may enjoy another award winning story I wrote about birds- Giving Dad the Bird aka Lilac Breasted Roller