Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Unhappy Endings

This young life came to an unhappy and abrupt end

I was driving through the town of Sherborn when I caught sight of what I thought might be an injured young owl lying on the side of a busy road. A flag of downy feathers waved as cars sped past. 

I found a place to pull over, grabbed the bag I always keep in the trunk of my car and headed over to investigate. The downy feathers belonged to a wild turkey poult that looked about three weeks younger than the poults that live with me. Like so many other wild babies, his life came to a brutal end when he ventured too close to the road. His intestines were splayed on the asphalt beside his body, which was still warm. 

I couldn't leave him there. I knew his family had stood by grieving this event and might still be nearby. I've seen hens and sibling poults do this before. They stand around their loved one in a circle if they can and have what I can only describe as an observance of grief. They leave with great reluctance but the call to move on and survive is greater.

Nearby was a wooded area where I could return this baby to the peace and quiet of his forest home. That was one way to honor his life. I also knew that leaving him in the road would put the lives of other animals at risk as they tried to feed on his remains.

As I laid the poult down on the forest floor in a tranquil spot near a riverbank, I knew a fox, coyote or mink would find him later that evening and enjoy an unexpected but welcome meal.  But I was sorry that the poult's first summer was also his last.

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