Saturday, August 4, 2012

Inspiration From A Bird

This video is for our blog... it wouldn't make much sense decontextualized on YouTube. This is my pet crow, Keira. I found her on the side of the road fourteen months ago. She had been hit by a car while scavenging for food at a drive-thru. Her left wing was wide open, with compound fractures and tendons hanging out. I brought her to several vets, but they wouldn't treat her, because she is a 'wild' animal. I inquired at various avian rehabilitation facilities, and they said that by Alberta law they would have to put her down, because she'll never fly again. They were right about the last part. She won't fly again. But I'm certain that, like any of us, she values her life all the same, and wants to continue experiencing it

Taking Keira home, my wife and I put raw honey on the wound and bandaged her injured wing. We kept it bandaged for seven weeks. Six months later, she still wasn't able to move more on that side than a shrug of the shoulder. But every day, she works at it. Lately, her workouts are about two hours long. During that stretch, she performs the hops and wing-lifts you see in this video. About every fifteen or twenty minutes, she walks off and has a drink of water, then comes back for more. Over the last few days, she has developed a new technique, a 180 degree mid-air turn around, using her good wing as propulsion. You will see her perform that move a few times in this video. Knowing her expressions well, I can see the pride in her eyes when she pulls it off successfully

Keira inspires me in a few different ways. First of all, she doesn't give up. She's going to continue to try to fly, and she's happy about each little bit of development she achieves. Secondly, I observe that she enjoys this practice. It's not a burden to her. It's something she looks forward to, and she's joyous as she engages in it. Finally, I find analogy between our species and Keira. It seems to me like, somewhere along the line, our species experienced some developmental accident, where we lost most of our strength, speed, flexibility, timing, awareness, etc. Our ancestors traded it for something else. But every once in a while, there'll be some member of our species, like Bruce Lee for instance, who demonstrates how far we can still go in retrieving our original potentiality. However, most of us who try are more like Keira. We may never fly, but that doesn't mean we quit imagining it's possible, or quit trying to meet our potential as human beings. To me, this is part of what it means to be really alive


  1. I'm not gonna lie, I was blown away by your story. It shows great humanity and respect for nature, a quality that is so rare in our own species.
    I remember a very sad story. I was a kid and we were practicing sprints at school. Then a bird fell down and older kids started to kick it, laughing. Inside my heart I felt like a thunder, took an iron bar and started to yell and smash. The violence couldn't save this poor animal, but you could. All my respect.

  2. Beautiful post, thank you very much for sharing with us your inner wisdom, much can be learned from this post.

  3. I really enjoyed the fluf up after landing that first big 180 spin :) I think see might have been showing off a bit. She really is a beautiful bird.

  4. Like Sifu said, that is a beautiful post Ryan, thanks very much for sharing it with us.

    It is good to hear of a bird that has been successfully looked after by someone. I found a wood pigeon with a badly damaged wing once and despite looking around for a vet or an animal shelter that would take it in I didn't have much luck. Finally I found a vet that said they would take care of it so I happily took it to them. When I called to check up on the pigeon and see how it was doing a couple of days later I was told it had to be put down because it couldn't fly and they didn't have the facilities to take care of it.

    Needless to say, I was pretty gutted and would have done my best to look after it myself if I had know that was what they were going to do. I am not a vet so I can't say if it was the kindest thing to do or not, but as you mention in your post, I think all living things value their life and it is not something that should be taken away lightly. Hopefully I won't find another injured bird, but if I do, and it is very clear that it can't take care of itself, then I am definitely going to attempt to look after it myself if I can't find a vet willing to take care of it and not just put it to sleep.

    Great work on looking after Keira so well. I don't know much about birds but I would certainly say she looked pretty happy and engaged as she practices taking to the sky again.

    Really enjoyed your thoughts pertaining to our potential as well. I also feel like we have lost a lot of what we could be. The way the world is today so much is done for us and we have become so much weaker as a species even over the last 1,000 years (which in the grand scheme of things is nothing). You could call this 'evolution' I suppose, the mind has become far more important than the body because we have invented so many machines and devices to perform a lot of the physical aspects of our lives for us (hence the need we now have to 'work out'), so we are adapting to our environment. The problem for me is that it is an artificial environment which we have created for ourselves, and that I don't think we can continue developing without either destroying our planet, or each other. As a whole, humans seem to be at loggerheads with nature, seeking to dominate and control it, rather than finding a way to integrate into it, hopefully time will prove me wrong. But, as with everything in nature there are always exceptions to the rule, kudos to you Ryan, you certainly seem to be an exception! :)

    Bah, a little off topic there, sorry. Either way, a great post and a lot to think about, thanks again!

    All the best and keep on smiling,

  5. Thanks Xiaolang... It really blows me away, the double standards we keep to reinforce this culture of human vs nature. Just imagine how absurd it would be if a human being suffered a serious injury, and when he went to the hospital the doctor said, "I'm sorry to say, but since you won't be able to sprint anymore, we're going to need to put you down." Or taking your child to the optometrist, "This girl will never have perfect vision again, the best thing to do so she doesn't suffer is kill her." How absurd


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