I live on a farm, and it seems that every bird in the U.S. chooses to build its nest in our trees, or in the rafters of our barn and garage.
Based on what I’m seeing, birds oughtta be extinct. Baby birds just can’t seem to stay in their nests.
As I walk in the driveway, or in the garage, I occasionally feel the “crunch” as I step on a baby bird’s dead body. I have to be careful, because they get slippery when squooshed.
Working out in the barn, I’m between reps. It’s a pastoral moment of reflection. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a tiny meteor falling from the rafters.
They fall with depressing regularity. Hardly ten minutes goes by without another life being tragically lost.
When I was mowing Saturday I saw a heavy wind blow against one of our trees, and the baby birds fell like rain, hitting the cement of the driveway. They exploded like popcorn on impact, and made much the same sound.
They crunch under the tires When I come home and leave, and they dry up into little frisbees in the hot sun.
I sweep or scrape them out of the garage.
Occasionally I come across them still alive, yet doomed. They squirm about with their little broken bodies.
When I first moved here, my wife and I were horrified. We would try to replace birds in nests even though they were hurt, and we were filled with sympathy, and uncomprehending of the horror of all this death. All this wasted young life.
But, as far as Nature’s concerned life is cheap, especially baby bird life. “Make lots and lots. Don’t worry if we have too many, their disposable. The flies and worms will get them.”
And, living out on the farm, I’ve become jaded to death. As far as every living thing is concerned, life is cheap, as long as it doesn’t belong to you and yours. Sometimes not even then.
It seems that every animal meets a public and ignominous end. A deer breaks its leg and suffers weeks as infection slowly kills it. It hobbles around in a circle, falling, getting up, falling, getting up. Days go by and the world in general and myself in particular are unmoved.
I wonder idly how high all the dead bodies through history would cover the world.
Those birds that survive youth die hard as hell. Raccoons, squirrels, groundhogs, rabbits you name it. When they bite the dust it tends to be a long suffering process. The lucky one get killed by predators, and die quickly. Everything else takes a long time.
I am unmoved by the suffering because of its inevitability. I realize now, that I was wrong in my earlier civilized horror. It’s a facade, a lie that society has foisted upon us. It may be hidden away in hospitals and nursing homes, but our ultimate destiny is probably little different than that aforementioned deer, or the birds. We will suffer a long time and when death finally comes after us in its lazy indifferent, but inevitable way, it’ll be welcome.