When I came home from work on Thursday, I found a startling addition to the little garden area by my front door: a downed adult bird, sitting motionless in the grass. I ran inside to put down my bags, then called out to my housemate that there was a hurt bird we needed to help.
“Uh, he’s been there for about four days,” she informed me. Hmm, maybe not so much hurt as he is dead? I still had to investigate my poor fallen buddy.
In true photographer fashion, I lunged for my camera before returning outside. As I snapped dozens of photos of his limp body, I turned his frame over – and then he started to breathe. I know corpses collect and emit loads of gas during decomposition, but I could swear these were shallow breaths coming from this body with hollowed eye sockets. Disturbed, I ran back inside.
I was convinced he was still alive, but refused to burden myself with the guilt I’d feel if I ended his misery and killed him. I tried to forget about it. The next two days, it rained. The bird’s feathers grew soggy and parted in places to expose his blackened flesh. I was too creeped out to dare move his body to a proper burial spot.
Finally, I decided to bury him about 20 minutes ago. I dug a deep hole in the dirt next to a towering batch of ferns, and began to lift his body with my small shovel. It flopped over, and dozens of maggots poured out from his devoured belly, followed by a foul stench that dangerously irritated gag reflex.
It was the single most disturbing interaction I have ever had with a creature buddy. I wanted to give this poor fellow a proper resting spot, but my foolish procrastination led me to a haunting experience – I probably won’t be able to eat for the rest of the day.
Kids, if you see a dead bird and feel obligated to give it a righteous grave, do it then, don’t wait – because the sight of juicy maggots feasting on your deceased little buddy will not be easy to erase from your thoughts.