Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cabin Life: An Unforgettable Encounter

A grackle got stuck in the porch yesterday.  A few friends and I were playing horseshoes, and I went inside to grab a beer.  In the twenty or so seconds that I was in front of the fridge, the bird flew in through the open door and was completely stymied by the wall of glass windows.  Those windows are nice for me, but not so nice for an animal that has limited reasoning skills.

I watched the bird from inside for a minute or two, hoping that he would find his way back out the door.  The black body and iridescent head of the grackle are beautiful in the sun, changing color as the bird looks around.  I see them all over the campground, and the flashes of color off their seemingly black feathers usually brighten up the day.  But this one was clearly in distress.

Its beak was open like it was panting for air, and it kept fluttering around in the middle of the porch, surrounded on three sides by the outdoors, but blocked by all that glass.  He perched on one of the chairs for a rest, then dove headlong into the middle window down at floor level.  He dove at this particular window several times, apparently convinced that this was the way out.  It was not.

I grabbed a pair of work gloves, and watched the bird for another minute.  He was not getting any closer to the open door, and seemed to be tiring.  Plus he was hitting his head on the glass a lot.  I eased out onto the porch and pushed the outside door open wider.  The bird sat on the edge of my cooler, beak open, eyes wide with anxiety.  The head shone a striking blue-green against the darker body.  Even though I was sorry for the bird, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the colors coming off his scared little noggin.

I got within about a foot before he took off again.  But this time, after diving into the middle window again, he took off, spun around and flew over my right shoulder and out the door.  I watched as he glided across the yard and landed in a cedar about a hundred feet away.  I glanced out at my friends to see if they had noticed the commotion, but the horseshoe pit was too far away for them hear or see the bird on the porch.  I stood there and watched him in the tree, wondering if he would remember this experience.  I know I will.

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Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.

4 Responses

  1. michele says:

    I love reading your blog!!!!!!!

  2. Ellen says:

    I enjoyed this post, and the happy ending. 🙂

  3. Dan Crane says:

    The best thing to do in such a situation is to darken the enclosed area as much as possible except for the only exit. Typically, the bird will fly to the light. I am glad the grackle escaped ratherly unscathed.

  4. Justin says:

    Thanks! I wish I could have just left him alone to get out, but with all those windows, I figured he needed some help. Apparently he just needed to try avoiding me to find the open door!

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