He stood out from his healthy peers, a small crippled sparrow struggling to feed himself on my back patio. Unable to perch on the feeders, he dragged himself along by flapping his wings with what looked like herculean effort, content with seed fallen on the ground through the carelessness of others. While he could fly short distances he could not soar. I wondered if he reflected on the pathos of his situation, and envied his able-bodied brethren. Most likely he simply stayed in the moment and applied himself to the task of survival.
I know that nature is cruel to the weak, and realized that I would see him on my patio every day until I wouldn’t. I made a point of leaving a pile of seeds on the ground for him every morning, and, since he couldn’t balance on the bird bath, placed a saucer of water nearby so he could drink.
I observed one day as he maneuvered himself awkwardly into the saucer and remained for the longest time. He thrashed his wings about in a grotesque parody of bathing, which I chose to interpret as bliss.
I didn’t see him the next day, or any other. I rejoiced that on his last day he had known abundant food, the warmth of the sun, and the cool comfort of water.