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The Death of a Wild Bird: A Reflection on Society's Values

Updated on March 14, 2014
Seagulls were trying to eat a pie that had been thrown out of a car window into the middle of the road.
Seagulls were trying to eat a pie that had been thrown out of a car window into the middle of the road.

Seagull knocked down as it foraged for food

Walking home from my mum's one day, on a busy main road, I saw a slight tailback of traffic and several seagulls swooping about above the cars.

At first, I didn't think too much of it, being laden down with four bags of heavy shopping and concentrating on beginning the one-mile walk home. I had just sold my car and was discovering what it was like to walk a lot again. It was okay except when I had been to the supermarket.

However, as I approached the seagulls, who were crying out loudly and circling, I saw, to my horror, that a mighty bird had been hit by a car and was struggling to get up in the middle of the road.

It appeared some thoughtless person had discarded a pie of some sort out of a car window and the birds had been trying to eat this when one of them had been knocked down.

I truly wish people wouldn't do this - apart from carelessly throwing litter out of a car window instead of taking it home or finding a bin, it will encourage birds to land in the road to eat and this will lead to their being killed.

The main road where the seagull was struck by a car.
The main road where the seagull was struck by a car.

Appalled at motorists' reaction to injured bird

What upset me most was the behaviour of the motorists who were trying to drive along the road. It was rush hour and quite busy, but they were all beeping their horns and getting frustrated.

They were driving round the injured bird, some of them missing it by only inches.

Not one person stopped their car and tried to move it before it became further injured and it was merely sitting there in the middle of the road, pathetically flapping its wings and opening and closing its beak.

I felt so sorry for it - it was an adult bird and very beautiful.

I decided to move it to the pavement in the hope it might just be stunned and would recover once the shock had worn off.

I had rescued a seagull that had been hit by a car in the past and it was indeed well enough to fly off after it had been sitting in the grass verge for about 20 minutes, during which time I had stayed with it to make sure it was okay.

The last thing I wanted was to see it literally flattened by a vehicle. I have seen many, many seagulls and other wild birds - everything from pigeons to sparrows and starlings - literally flat on the road.

I hate it when drivers either don't care, or carry on driving at the normal speed, when they see birds in the road, saying, "Oh, they'll get out of the way."

Often, they don't - and end up dead.

Unfortunately, I  have seen plenty of wild birds, including the majestic seagulls, flattened in the road after being run over.
Unfortunately, I have seen plenty of wild birds, including the majestic seagulls, flattened in the road after being run over.
Everyone is so intent in rushing to their destination, getting angry and frustrated in the solitude of their vehicle, they have scant regard for anyone else - human or animal.
Everyone is so intent in rushing to their destination, getting angry and frustrated in the solitude of their vehicle, they have scant regard for anyone else - human or animal.

Nobody would stop their car so I could pick up the bird

Rescuing the bird from the middle of the road proved much more difficult than anticipated.

With traffic driving both ways and with it being early evening rush hour, it wasn't as if I could just step out and scoop up the seagull, as I would probably have been knocked down myself.

My mum, who is elderly, lives near this road and she has a terrible time navigating it herself, as all the drivers are speeding along and so intent on reaching their destination at breakneck speed, they have scant regard for anyone - animal or human - who needs to cross the road.

Also, I had four bags of heavy shopping - including canned food for all my dogs and cats - so I could not move very fast.

As I waited to cross, I noticed the individual motorists' faces as they had to slow down slightly to wait and pass the injured bird.

Not one of them had even a slight look of compassion or sorrow. They were all rushing who knows where - driving home after work? The supermarket? The pub? But it struck me that every single one of them was so wrapped up in their own little world they were totally immune to the fact a living creature was in agony and possibly dying in front of them.

Not one person stopped and every driver looked furious, angry or frustrated and saw it more as an inconvenience rather than a wild animal floundering and in desperate need of help.

Eventually I took my life in my hands and stepped into the road

After more than five minutes waiting for a gap in the traffic to try to pick up the injured gull, I decided enough was enough.

I simply dumped all my shopping on the pavement and stepped out in front of the oncoming cars, holding my hand up to say, "Stop."

I am not the most patient of people myself, although my frustration comes not from being in the car in traffic on my way home, but from dealing with thoughtless, selfish people who don't care about anything but themselves and their own inconvenience.

One driver (male) had no choice other than to stop or he would have struck me with his car. I saw his angry face as he hit the brakes.

To my amazement, the female driver behind him actually attempted to overtake him at this point, on the wrong side of the road! She would have hit me had she not suddenly spotted me and realised why the car in front had stopped! She slammed on her brakes and glared at me.

I was so angry by this time, I felt like a coiled spring and had she beeped her horn at me or shouted anything out of her window, I think I would have marched over to her car and dragged her out by the scruff of the neck. I saw her face, twisted in fury that she had to wait.

I thought to myself, "What is wrong with people?"

I decided to take the seagull to the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, who had once been very helpful when I found an injured hedgehog (pictured) and had treated him free of charge.
I decided to take the seagull to the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, who had once been very helpful when I found an injured hedgehog (pictured) and had treated him free of charge.

I picked up the gull and placed it on the pavement

I just marched straight over to the seagull, gently picked it up and placed it safely at the side of the road. Then I remembered my shopping, at the other side of the road, so I had to run back for that too.

Surviving unscathed - although with a few car horns beeped as I stopped the traffic - I started to assess how badly the bird was injured.

It was hard to tell, as it appeared able to flap its wings and was making pathetic squawking noises, but otherwise, it seemed unable to move. I felt so sorry for it.

I decided to try and take it to the vet - my local People's Dispensary for Sick Animals. Although a lot of vets won't treat wild animals and will merely euthanise them if injured, I found the PDSA very helpful in the past, when I took in a hedgehog that had been knocked down. They treated it and kept it there under observation until it recovered and would not accept any money from me.

I was later able to release it back to the wild, near the spot where I had found it.

Apathy prevails: My thoughts on the human race.
Apathy prevails: My thoughts on the human race.

Passer-by refused to help me

Moving the bird was a challenge in itself, as it was massive.

I had only my handbag and four supermarket carrier bags filled with cans of food and other shopping.

However, I then spotted a man emerging from a nearby house, walking his dog. He spotted the bird flapping about on the pavement and his dog, on an extending lead, tried to run at it, barking, but the man pulled his pet away and gave the gull a distasteful look.

I walked over to him and very politely said, "Excuse me, you don't have an old carrier bag or cardboard box in your house, do you?"

I explained the bird had just been knocked down and that I wanted to take it to the vet's.

His reply astounded me. He appeared disgruntled that I had bothered him and he grunted, "Just leave it there and it will die."

I was so stunned. I wondered how he would feel if his dog escaped from its lead and got knocked down? Would he expect a passer-by to just "leave it there to die"?

I said to him, "I'm not doing that, it's cruel. Forget it, I'll sort it out myself."

He shrugged and looked at me like I was mad. He added, "Well, I wouldn't bother!"

I could have said much more to him, but managed to bite my tongue and walk away.

I feel many people attach different levels of importance to different species' lives, with humans at the top of the chain, followed by pet animals and then wild animals way, way down the list, with no regard for their well-being at all.

Struggle to carry the gull home

Eventually, I had to transfer all my shopping - four bags full - into two bags and make a rather uncomfortable "bed" for the seagull out of the remaining two bags.

I did not have the money for a taxi and wasn't on a bus route to my house, so I walked home with all my shopping in one hand and the gull in the other, my arms like lead and my legs feeling like they were buckling under the extra weight.

I planned to drop off the shopping at home and then go to the PDSA surgery, which luckily was only two minutes from my house.

Arriving home, I put the bird in a box with towels for bedding and prepared to go to the vet's.

But unfortunately, after giving a final squawk and a flap of his wings, he died, a trickle of deep red blood suddenly pouring from his mouth. I realised he must have had bad internal injuries, despite his struggle to get up after the accident.

I felt very sad - never again would he fly free and feel the wind under his wings and in his face. Never again would he feel the sunlight on his back and be glad to be alive.

I felt saddened when I thought the gull's life had come to such a horrible end in the road, where nobody cared.
I felt saddened when I thought the gull's life had come to such a horrible end in the road, where nobody cared.

My failure to understand why not enough people care

I wasn't sorry I had carried the gull all the way home. At least I had tried. I would have had sleepless nights if I'd left him in the road fighting for his life.

But afterwards, I struggled to understand why nobody else would even stop their car to move him to safety at the side of the road, or why the motorists had become angry at me for holding them up, or why the man walking his dog would not spare even two minutes of his time to get me a carrier bag or a cardboard box from his house.

Maybe I think too deeply, I have no idea! But I believe every living creature has a right to life. It has a beating heart, a brain, it feels pain, it reproduces and looks after its young. At the end of the day, we are all living creatures trying to get on with our lives in the best way possible.

Because the human species is (supposedly) further advanced than other species, many people mistakenly think we are more important than the animals.

Treat humans and animals with equal respect

When I was in my early teens, I had a good friend who was a vegetarian and who read a lot about Buddhism, although not a Buddhist.

We spoke a lot about animals and their welfare and I learned how Buddhists try to do no harm (or as little harm as possible) to animals and try to show loving-kindness to all beings, including animals.

Buddhists treat the lives of human and non-human animals with equal respect.

I think probably some of our conversations, 30 years ago now, helped shape my views on animals, which I have had my entire adult life.

I wish everyone could just take a moment to reflect on how all life is important and how every creature deserves a chance to live its life in safety and happiness. I do not imagine for a moment that this will ever happen. But I can dream.

How I believe we should live our life.
How I believe we should live our life.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Alison Mason 2 years ago

      I only just discovered your Hubs. This is a beautifully-written story and every credit to you for doing your best for this bird. So sorry he died.

    • K L Evans profile image
      Author

      Karen Evans 2 years ago from Lancashire, England

      Hi Jane. Unfortunately the animosity towards gulls has increased again lately, mainly due to the scaremongering in the media. I wish people would understand they are not evil killers, but just trying to live their life and protect their young.

    • profile image

      Jane 2 years ago

      This made me cry when I read the part about how the gull died and would never feel the wind under his wings again, or the sun on his back. It is very sad that a lot of people have become so cold to the beauty that is around them.

    • K L Evans profile image
      Author

      Karen Evans 3 years ago from Lancashire, England

      Thank you so much for your kind comments. I truly agree with you and believe we should do our best to care for every living creature.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 3 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      I have wept while reading your account of this beautiful bird and the hardhearted response of so many people. I firmly believe God had put mankind in a place of stewardship over the animals and when we are cruel and uncaring, we will have to answer for that. Thankfully people like you still care and will get involved. May you be forever blessed for being the loving, kind person you are. I am honored to know you even if it is just over the internet and with an ocean between us.

    • K L Evans profile image
      Author

      Karen Evans 3 years ago from Lancashire, England

      Thank you very much for your supportive comments!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      A very interesting hub leaving much food for thought.

      Voted up and shared.

      Eddy.

    • K L Evans profile image
      Author

      Karen Evans 3 years ago from Lancashire, England

      Yes indeed. This was a really sad experience. Human apathy.

    • Ali Stephen profile image

      Ali Stephen 3 years ago from Blackpool

      Most people don't care unfortunately. I have found this to be true on many animal issues.