by Leesah Marie Noon
One early morning toward the end of spring, I was enjoying a cup of coffee with my neighbor. The skies were bright blue, and the sun was gearing up for an extremely hot day. It was so peaceful with the sounds of crickets and a few birds. A beautiful red cardinal caught our attention as he landed on my bird feeder. We sat quietly and watched him eat, commenting on his vibrant red color. Suddenly, he flew away and collided into the backboard of my basketball net. I immediately ran over to find him laying lifeless in the grass. I recognized him as one of the many cardinals I had been photographing over the prior two years. The poor little guy was semi-conscious but unable to move.
I immediately called a bird rehabilitation center and explained what happened. They addressed the typical symptoms of a slight concussion in birds, which are: ataxia, uncoordinated flight, unable to maintain balance, extremely photo-sensitive, no appetite and regurgitation. They were confident he had suffered a concussion and provided me with specific instructions for his immediate care.
I put on a pair of gloves, lined a large box with paper towels, gently placed the wounded cardinal into a box that had holes on all sides to provide proper ventilation. I closed the lid and placed the box into a quiet room of my home where it remained for the next several hours. The atmosphere was perfect as there were no lights, no sounds and my children were in school.
Five hours later, there was slight movement in the box, so I carried it outside to an area near his favorite Pine Tree. I gently placed the box onto the grass and slowly removed the lid. The cardinal remained motionless. I was so worried, but excited to have such a close view of this magnificent creature! I captured his photograph to preserve the moment and patiently waited. Suddenly, he took a couple of tiny steps and looked up at me. I gently tilted one end of the box toward the grass and he slowly walked out. He paused for just a moment and then immediately flew off into the bright blue sky!
Tears filled my eyes as Cardinals are so special to me, especially the ones who visit my home regularly. To this day, I remain incredibly grateful to the bird rehabilitation center for providing me with proper instructions for his care. He is one of the largest and most vibrant red cardinals that visits my home year-round. He considers himself famous, as he appears on several pages of my inspirational gift book Caring Cardinals: Nature's Gift for Inner Peace.