Sixth Grade: My sister Renee and I shared a bird named Chipper. We loved Chipper more than we loved ourselves (OK. Maybe just more than we loved Sesame Street). Renee was in charge of Chipper's water, I was in charge of his food.

One day we came home and noticed Chipper wasn't doing so hot. In fact, he was flapping around the bottom of the cage.

By the time we finally found out that Chipper's water had been gone for at least a week, it was too late. I'm sure my sister still feels terrible.

It was spring. My brother and I were both in that pre-pubescent phase where we annoyed the hell out of each other, and hot dogs were flying through the air between our plates. We were sitting at the picnic table out back when we heard a series of strange noises:

Tweet! Tweet! Thunk

Tweet! Tweet! Thunk

We turned around and watched in horror as the baby birds that had been growing up in the birdhouse near our window made a pathetic attempt at flying, only to fall to their deaths on the pavement below.

Tweet! Tweet! Thunk

Tweet! Tweet! Thunk

The hot dogs almost fell from our open mouths. Little bodies, running like lemmings to the edge and soaring with all of their might, so happy for a second, and then the fluttery panic of tiny useless wings. And then the ground. My father rushed to place a pillow underneath, but it was no use. We buried them in the yard and a new family soon moved into the birdhouse. So it goes.

oh i do! i do! It still haunts me.
it wasn't dead yet and it was barely a bird. I was walking to work, also not a bird. Next to the sidewalk, in a tiny patch of close-shaven grass, it lay quivering. So i stopped, because it was alive, and crouched down. Its body was bulbous, translucent, unwieldy, a tiny little limp neck and small round head with black closed eyes. Peeping. Opening desperately its little beak, not even decided yet to be pink or yellow. Almost a tongue thrusting into the air with each tiny scream. I knew i ought not to touch it.. I looked around for a nearby nest it might have fallen out of, and thought of all of the dogs and cats in the neighborhood. I stood and walked on to my destination.

Through some morbid curiosity, i walked back the same way. It was still there, nestled in coarse grasses, not broken but not working. And not fixable. I stopped to look at it, on my haunches, being sure not to touch this miracle chick that had survived the day, in case it would be rescued by some creature better fitted for the task: its mother? It sensed me there and turned its head toward me, mouth open so wide. It seemed thinner, the sack of its little body looser. The black pins of developing feathers looked like fingerbones. I hurried home.

The next morning it screamed silently, and i knelt close to it, looking, pitifully, at the organs that shifted beneath its smooth monstrous skin as it begged me for food, or love. How was it that the cats or dogs had not snatched up this helpless little morsel?: I could imagine the crunch of its little bones in a predatory mouth, easily.. i could imagine the crunch of them in my hand. Its eyes were still closed, the pointy little protofeathers stood out in stark contrast to skin like wet rice paper. It must have felt my shadow through its closed eyelids (translucent as well); it followed my movement, weakly. A huge effort lifted its little head. I was overcome, i wanted to hold it, to comfort it - without consulting me, my hand reached out and gently scooped it up, where it rested quietly and warm in the hollow of my palm, its tiny feet curled beneath the loose pouch of its stomach. I walked to the far side of the train tracks and realized there was nothing, not even one little thing, i could do. I couldn't bring it to work. It opened its mouth and reached at me like the baby in Eraserhead. I gently set it in a patch of grass, on the far side of the tracks, by the parking lot. And forced myself to walk away.

It was gone when i came back that way that afternoon. No trace. Of course, there were no feathers to scatter.

So I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Sweden over the summer, minding my own business, and simply eating my breakfast. I was sitting on the porch which is pretty much enclosed except for the door which is covered by a sheet. Somehow this bird managed to fly through the door and get caught inside. The cat (black and white of course like Sylvester) creeped up from its resting place. I would have sworn it was sleeping, but it's bird-dar or whatever went off, and I got to watch the entire hunt. I mean, maybe I should have been an animal activist or something and tried to save the poor bird, but I was much too fascinated by the actual process of this cat slinking from behind and then spastically (but very well aimed) leaping out and catching the bird in its mouth. The bird died. I guess that's nature.

When I was 6, I had a bird named Greeny, he was a little parakeet I got for my birthday. He was so cute, and he talked, and ate from my hand, and one day I was teaching him how to fly, which resulted him becoming crippled and then dying in 3 months. Don't ask what I did, I still haven't forgiven my self.

I now have a bird that looks the same, his name is Chippy, I care for him like if he was my child, perhaps that's why I spend 300$ on him in 3 days when he got sick.

I also always pick up little baby birds that fall out of nests and take them to a shelter. And I avoid hitting them when driving. Perhaps I am so careful with birds because of the guilt I still feel for that little, helpless creature I killed when I was little. Pearhaps one day I will forgive my self.

I was out dove hunting with my step-father. I was 17 and I was using 12-gauge semi automatic shotgun.
The effective range for hunting dove with a 12-gauge is about forty yards. Beyond that the pellets don't always have enough force to kill the bird, but sometimes you can get lucky and stun it and knock it to the ground.

The bird I hit was out of range. I knew it, but it had been a slow day and you have to take the shots you have. I missed with my first shot, or it didn't hurt it, then I hit it fell. I actually thought I had killed it, because it fell straight down without flapping or struggling.

When I got closer I could see it standing on the ground. It was testing its wings, hopping around, getting ready to take off.

I only had one shell left, having wasted my first shot and hitting with the second.
I was about fifteen feet away when I pulled the trigger and destroyed the tiny, helpless bird.

I haven't shot at anything since then.

When I was 10, my first year in the new house, my dad found a couple of abandoned baby birds in the yard. Thinking they wouldn't survive the night, he tucked them away in a bush to protect them.

Upon discovering they were still alive the next day, my father brought them inside, to live on our porch. I was delighted - the two ugly, scrawny, noisy things were just adorable!

For the next few days, we fed them half a worm each, gave them water, and tried to keep the poor things alive. One of them died after two days, the other after four. We buried them in our backyard.

I couldn't understand why the birds died... we gave them shelter, food, and water. It just wasn't fair, the poor things. My parents said they probably were too little to eat worms by themselves, and they blocked up their systems.
But it wasn't like I was going to chew up the worms for them. Oh well.

That's my dead bird story.

When I was a freshman in college, I found a small egg lying at the base of a tree, amidst a nest and scattered, broken eggshells. Likely the nest had been blown out of the tree and most of the eggs had been broken or stolen by predators or whatnot. But this one egg had survived.

I took it to my dorm room. I looked through it with a flashlight. There was a growing baby bird inside. I thought it might be dead. I put it on my desk. It was vibrating in small but rapid movements - the fetus heart beating.

I felt strangely obligated to bring it to hatching, not knowing what I would do when or if it did hatch. The dorms didn't allow pets, and I certainly didn't have the time or knowledge to raise a baby bird. But I couldn't kill it, couldn't bring myself to abandon a life I thought I had saved. Various people advised me to crush it before it became a problem, but I couldn't bring myself to murder.

I used my monitor as a makeshift incubator. Every day I would feel its temperature, check its pulse, and do my best in trying to bring this baby to term.

Eventually, the question of "when or if" was answered for me.

I came home one day to a very faint smell of sulfur. I looked at the egg. It had cracked. I knew that it wasn't because the chick had come to term - it was nowhere near that.

Futilely, I checked its pulse. None.

I buried it beside a tree outside my dormroom.

I once worked in an office that featured the angriest, most embittered secretary in the world. A friendly "Good morning" was usually either ignored or answered with some sort of rude comment. (She kept her job because she was married to the boss, and most of us tried to excuse her behavior because she was wracked with the worst case of arthritis we'd ever seen -- we figured her attitude was significantly worsened by her condition.)

One of the few times I saw her express concern and caring was, one day right after work, when she found a dying baby sparrow lying on the ground outside the office. She called me over as I was heading to my car and pointed out the bird to me. It was small, but nicely feathered and had open eyes. It didn't make a sound, and it didn't move much -- it moved its head and eyes, so we could tell it was alive.

Our secretary wondered what was wrong with it, where its mother was, what we should do for it. No biologist, I -- but I reckoned it had fallen or been pushed from its nest and had broken at least one bone in the fall, that its mother had given it up, that there was nothing we could do for it. It was dying. It was doomed.

"Could you pick it up?" she asked me. My momma had raised me on stories of all the parasites birds had, but I figured picking up one baby bird wouldn't kill me, so I carefully scooped it out of the grass. "Light as a feather" is such a cliche, but I could think of no other way to describe it -- light, so light, like there was nothing in my hands at all. I knew it must surely be in agony and terrified that one of the Big Pink Things was touching it ("You wouldn't believe all the parasites and germs those Big Pink Things have," its momma had surely told it once), but its eyes looked perfectly calm, watching me as if all the fear had been bled out of its system.

"Please let me hold it," our secretary asked, and she held out both of her arthritis-gnarled hands. I put the bird in her hands, and she watched it for a minute, saying, "Oh, the poor thing," once or twice. Then she gave it back to me and asked again, "What should we do with it?" I considered trying to put it out of its misery, but I wasn't prepared to try to kill it with my hands. I ended up putting it back down on the ground. It was dead the next morning and covered with ants.

Our secretary continued to act rudely to everyone. She and I never spoke about the bird again.

When I was six, a bird flew into the living room window. Well, the window wasn't open, so it only made a loud THUMP. I leaped up and ran outside to see if it was okay. It wasn't. I saw it laying on its side in the wood chips beneath the window, behind a Rhododendron bush full of big pinkish-purple flowers. I buried the bird in a light bulb box next to a little tree my dad had just planted. And then I cried all day.

Something just felt wrong. She tried to lose herself in television, channel surfing could do wonders for quieting those nagging voices in your head. Every channel just seemed wrong.

With a sigh, she moved to her front door. Outside the rain beat down icy songs of wrongness. January carried such contempt here. Being used to warm, southern climes, the cold felt so wrong. It would be some months before the geese returned, heralding the coming of spring. The world will awaken, birds will come, the sun will brighten, and all will be right. That was some months away, and right now everything seemed wrong.

She heard Niko upstairs. He sounded distressed. Having owned her two canaries for many years, she became accustomed to their language. This was an alarm, there was something wrong.

Niko sounded again. Usually this signal warranted a return call, but there was none. It was odd since Orin generally sounded back. One would squawk high and the other would squawk back low, sort of like a locator beacon, saying all is well.

The rain seemed to intensify as she moved up the stairs. She took deep breaths to keep her paranoia in check. So many times it toyed with her, that idea that something would be wrong. It just came with owning free-flying birds. She had prepared herself many times to come home to dead canaries, only to find that nothing was wrong.

She reached her bedroom door and Niko sang out again, but no response. There couldn't be anything wrong.

She opened the door and saw Niko immediately, his favorite perch on her curtain rod. He loved to sit there and preen after his morning bath. Uneasily she stepped into the room, taking a methodical inspection of her surroundings. Orin was usually so easy to spot, being a vibrant orange-yellow. If she just took her time she would see him.

One more step inside, close the door so no one gets out. Maybe he was on the pillows..

Orin loved to hop around on the pillows, especially in the morning sun that streamed in. He would pick at her threads of hair that glinted in the light, making little squeaks as if he wished for hands. He was always her favorite of the two. He had a strong song, keen reptilian eyes, and an affinity for his owner that was remarkable for a small bird. Him not greeting her was all wrong.

She started to panic, her eyes darted around the room. She was frozen in one spot lest she should step on him. Termites of fear chewed at her...he has to be here.

Her german shepherd Robo sauntered from the other side of her bed. He had been lying down and she couldn't see him. This was definitely wrong.

She ran around the bed and stopped. There laid her little Orin, his eyes closed, his feathers wet with saliva. A futile scream of shock came out all wrong. The world around her halted, every thing felt still, no sound save Niko and his song of bewilderment and dismay. It was an imperfect moment in time, and it couldn't be more wrong.

She sat down and picked up his wet body, still warm, it felt alive, but he wasn't breathing. She clutched him close to her heart, wishing him to be alive, to give her a little peep. Yet she knew it wouldn't happen. Tears burned icy songs of wrongness down her cheeks. They sang of how she would miss Orin's reverie with the dawn. They sang of how she would miss his steely stare as he danced on her shoulder. They sang of how she would miss watching him sleep with his head tucked in his wings. They sang of how she would miss him lighting on her fingers to eat sunflowers from her hands. And they sang of how lonely Niko would be without him.

She put him in a silver tin, wrapped in a fine, silk scarf given to her by her grandmother. In the tin she placed a key, for you to get into the next life, a picture of Niko, so you'll never be alone. she cut a lock of her hair and placed in on top, so you'll always have something to remember me by. She closed the lid and asked the good spirits to watch over her little Orin.

She stepped out barefoot into the cold, rainy January nite and walked to her English Garden. Its lack of life and color reflected her somber mood. She dug in the earth with her bare hands and placed the tin there. She covered the tin with river stones, a cairn for friend.
In the spring, the gladiolas and irises would watch over him and keep him safe. But will they do the same for me?

She made her way inside, reminiscing of the happy times that she had spent with her birds, and tried to make sense of it all. She closed the door behind her and leaned against it, drained by her tears. She peered up the dark staircase and thought, i hope Niko will be alright.

I think this classifies as genuine irony. Not the funny kind that's just a humorous coincidence like you see on Seinfeld. The real kind: some uncanny coincidence that tells you something about life and human nature.

When I read this node the first time yesterday, I thought it was a strange coincidence. Somebody's pet parakeet - beautiful blue little thing - had escaped. It had wound up inside the building I work at, but nobody would touch it. Finally, it had managed to make it outside. When I came downstairs to smoke a cigarette, I saw it sitting on a wicker chair. I wasn't even sure if it was real - but it was breathing. It was weak and scared, so it wanted nothing to do with anybody there. I looked and noticed it's tail feathers were clipped, so it had been somebody's pet. But there were only two places it could have come from - the condos next door, or one of the trucks that was making deliveries here that day.

Despite it's edginess, with a little bit of coaxing, I was able to get him to climb onto my hand. I found a box big enough so that we wouldn't fly off and get himself killed, and took him upstairs to my office. We gave him a few crackers and pieces of bagel (this is an office - it's the closest thing to bird seed we could find), and some water, hoping he would eat and drink. He ate some of the crackers, but not nearly enough. Didn't drink at all.

I went next door to the condos and left a note that somebody may have lost a parakeet. The receptionist there said only one resident had a parakeet and she was pretty sure it was green and was still there. But she checked anyway. Green parakeet, still there. She did express interest in adopting the bird if nobody claimed it so I gave her my phone number.

I went out to where I found the bird and left another notice w/ my phone number, but by about this time, I realized nobody was going to claim it. I program computers for a living, but the building I work at is almost entirely rented by interior decorators who are in and out of homes, loading and unloading trucks constantly. So who knows where that bird was from, or how long he'd been in a truck. When I got back upstairs, he was asleep. I went back to programming, and briefly swung by E2 and happened to read this node. "No, I won't tell anybody about this weird coincidencet. This bird is alive."

I got permission to leave work early so I could take the bird home to try to nurse it back to health. I was worried about him trying to fly off, but my boss brought him to me and I was slightly concerned when the bird was barely moving. So we put him in the box, placed a flannel shirt down so he wouldn't slide around, and I took him home.

By the time I got home, he was twitching, stiff and his legs were sticking out behind him, but he was still alive. He died a few minutes later. My brother, more familiar with caring for birds than I am, suggested it probably died of one of the following: starvation (most likely), dehydration, plain-old shock or poisoning (least likely). The thing that concerns me most is the last one. I didn't think to check the box I kept him in. I don't know what was in it - when I got him home, I noticed some crusty green powder around his beak that hadn't been there when I found him and I could only think maybe it was inside the box I had kept him in and it was poisonous... (my brother assured me this was the least likely scenario, and I trust him.)

So there's the irony. That bird would have died if I had just ignored him, but for all that I went through trying to help him, it didn't help one bit. He'd have been just as well off (or maybe even better), if I'd just walked away and left him to die. I feel bad, but not too guilty because I have enough dead bird stories that I realize sometimes there isn't anything you can do about it, and that there's never anything you can do once it's died.
The part of Idaho that I-90 cuts through is the tiny panhandle at the top of the state. As you drive into Idaho from Montana, you thank the Sweet Lord Above that you aren't driving during the winter - the road is ridiculously steep and winding, with at least four or five runaway truck turnouts. You've already passed the Continental Divide, so you've got nowhere to go but down. And down you go. Backtrack a bit. A little ways past Missoula, a bird flew down in front of my car, and didn't fly back up. Birds have this habit of flying really low to the ground for some reason. And most of the time, you see they fly off in the distance behind you. But not this one. But the fact is, I've seen plenty of birds flying low, and I didn't hear a thump, and when I looked back, I didn't see any fresh roadkill on the pavement behind me, so I didn't think anything of it.

Fast forward to Idaho, about six hours or so later. I was supposed to meet my friend Chris there, but he was stopping at the Custer's Last Stand Monument, so he wasn't going to be there until nightfall. I got there in the late afternoon, checked into my lodgings, and then went to the Silver Lake Mall to waste time. Now the whole time I was cruising around, people were looking at my car funny. I figured it was just because I have a Massachusetts license plate. Anyway, I come out of the mall, look at the front of my car, and I see what looks like a mint-condition stuffed magpie jammed snugly into my car right above the front bumper. When you take into account that the '92 Geo Prizm doesn't really have a place for a bird to get caught in, you can imagine how hard this bird was knocked around, and how deep it was wedged in, given that is was still sticking around six hours and countless sharp turns later. Chalk it up to the speed limit in Montana. Anyway, I took a softball bat out of the trunk and jimmied it loose. I'm sure the Silver Lake Mall clean-up crew disposed of the bird in a sanitary fashion, or at least sold it to a hungry foreigner.

My Mom wrapped our dead parakeet in a rag and froze him.

He was left in an old margarine tub. This was in the freezer for about a year and no one ever looked in there. I was not labled "Dead Bird" because no one really liked it anyway (messy cage - no interaction).

One Thanksgiving, my Mom was digging around in the feezer and brought out some "chicken broth" and set it on the counter to thaw. We had company. She went to open the container and yelled, "What the fuck is this?" We watched in semi-horror (really half amused - serves her right, swearing on Thanksgiving and all) as she peeled back the rag, her face turned into a sickened grimace, she flung it across the the kitchen. It hit the window and landed in the dishwater.

A fine last flight indeed. Drama! We had finally figured out what she was saving it for.

I found a dead bird on the patio of the computer science building at FIU, where I work, today. It had just died; it was perfectly intact. It had beauitful black and white feathers, and felt soft in my hand, and so light it practically felt like it wasn't there. Poor thing. It was probably some type of sparrow. I spread its wings gently, and admired the beauitful construction of them... Perfection. Every feather there, perfectly preened as if this bird was frozen in time. Its eyes were stuck open, almost appearing to gaze in desperation. I wonder how it died.

I contemplated what to do with it, not wanting to leave it there on the patio to decompose into a smelly mess... So I took it over to some bushes and laid it to rest there. I was a bit sad for the next few hours; the bird probably died before its time.

My parents have a house with many large windows. They put small bird silhouettes on them, which works wonders, but the woman who cleans our windows may take them off again.

the song thrush
many of them, upon returning from winter break, break their necks on my parents' windows - this one hit the window, flew away, then sat upright for half a minute; my dad and I looked at each other, relieved - the next thing I saw of it was my father picking it up. "What happened?" I asked. "It just tumbled over," he said.
the tree sparrow
a flight of some ten tree sparrows passing the house at cruise speed; one of them, inexplicably, makes a right angle hook to crash head on into a window - dead as a doornail
the house sparrow
a strange noise came from the chimney pipe - sure enough, a bird had descended from the chimney and it didn't sound happy. We opened the door to the fireplace, but it was nowhere to be seen. We shut it. The next morning, we found a dead house sparrow behind it, in the ashes. Poor little trapped bird, why couldn't I have saved you ...
the black-headed gull
we were crossing the provincial road, the kind of road you don't like to be next to, when we saw this gull beside the road. It stepped onto the road, and moved on, steadily, deliberately, right in front of a car, which hit and killed it. If this wasn't suicide, what on earth went on inside the brains of that gull?

The worst part's that for hours now
grass has been running in my new dress
and I am sitting on a concrete bench
one of five before the hairdresser's
the first is dumb, the second wide-eyed
the third afflicted with duplicity
I am the fourth and fifth
for I'm standing in a puddle
I see myself in it and must pull faces
else the one of them who's me
could not tell the fur cap on my head
from the dead bird at my feet

This is purely self indulgent drivel I came up with to avoid doing homework. All of these are characters from previous stories.
Originally posted April 20, 2013.

* * * * *

She found a dead bird in the grass, its eyes eaten out by ants, its neck and wings bent at odd angles, its breast torn and bare of feathers, its body desiccated in death.

She dropped to her knees and bent down low and, gently, blew onto its face, and life like fire kindled inside. Flesh and feathers rushed reformed and with a beat of little wings the bird flew from her hands and took to the air, tongues of flame trailing behind it.

She grinned and waved goodbye, then hurried to catch up with her brother. It was probably best she didn't mention the bird; he always got nervous when she brought things back from the dead.

* * * * *

She found a dead bird in the grass and almost walked past it but stopped when, from the corner of her eye, she saw that its white wings were stained with dried blood and bent out of shape.

"Stupid," she said, crouching. She ran a finger along its breast, avoiding the hole where a cat or something had ripped it open.

"Look at you. You're pathetic." She lightly-prodded the body. "You got those spindly legs and the neck and the hollow bones. I could break you on accident. You snap like dry twigs."

She picked up the bird. It hadn't died long ago: its body was still soft and limp. She fanned out a wing and made a face like tasting lemon juice.

"Figures He'd give you our wings," she said. "I wonder what he was trying to say?"

There was a bed of freshly planted flowers nearby, with soft loamy soil. She went over and casually kicked away the dirt, digging a in the ground with her foot until there was a bird-sized hole. Then she placed the bird down. The hole wasn't long enough, and the bird's head tilted to the side. Its eyes were black and sunk into its head.

Without a word, she buried the bird and went on her way.

* * * * *

He found a dead bird in the grass. It was mostly whole, he noticed, save for the tear in its breast. He bent over and picked it up. It was a pigeon, mostly white with patches of pink and tan around its neck, and clean save for some dried blood on its primaries.

He casually looked around to see if anyone was looking, then knelt down on the grass. He pulled out his pocket knife and cut the bird's neck. The blood was mostly clotted, but a whispered charm decoagulated it and soon a small puddle of red welled up in his hand. Then, using his finger as a pen, he traced a sign onto the back of his hand: a tiny circle surrounded by tinier script illegible to any eyes but his own.

They read: from death, life.

When that was done, he blew onto his hand to dry the blood. The sign burned emerald green for a split second before vanishing entirely, leaving no trace it was there.

He smiled, feeling the rejuvenating effects of the spell, and left the bird's body in the grass, walking off with a spring in his step.

* * * * *

He found a bird lying in the grass. Tentatively, he picked it up and said, "Be alive."

The bird sat in his hands, lifeless.

"Be alive."

The bird remained dead.

"Be alive! If Mia were here, you'd be alive! You'd be alive for her, why can't you be alive for me?"

The bird hung limply in his hands. He gently set it back down into the grass and walked off, anger and envy and sadness fighting painfully in the pit of his chest.

* * * * *

He found a bird lying in the grass and took it happily between his jaws. It tasted fresh-ish, and though its blood was clotted, it was still good. He lay in the grass and gnawed on the bird until the Little One That Smells Like Home came over and said,

"For fucksake, dog, we got food at home. Spit that out and come on."

He didn't understand the words, but the meaning was clear. He dropped the saliva-covered lump that had once been a bird and trotted away.

Apparently it's true. I know I do. I had just returned from Mexico and was going through culture shock for the second time. I had received the thing my heart most desired, as a birthday gift, for my thirteenth birthday, and it made me proud. The object of my desire. A Daisy BB rifle. A weapon.

The other object of my desire was Pammy Sue, who lived across the highway from the little clapboard house that I lived in. Pammy Sue was from Al La BAM Ah, at least that's the way she said it. She was a whole year younger than me and I was fascinated. But right now the BB gun was what had my attention. I was destined to become a hunter. And the first thing I was going to hunt was a bird. I didn't have any skill with this new toy. Sorry, this new weapon! But practice makes perfect and I was ready to hunt me some BIRD!

I headed to Pammy Sue's backyard. Nobody was home. So much the better, they might spook the prey. A blue sky with puffy white clouds was always a welcome sight in the rainy Pacific Northwest and that was what we had that day. Perfect weather for hunting. Feeling a bit euphoric, I crept toward the apple tree in Pammy Sue's backyard. A songbird was singing to the blue sky and the puffy white clouds. As I took aim, I expected a feather, maybe two, if my aim was true. The bird sang on happily. I pulled the trigger and the gun went "thump". The singing stopped abruptly and something fell to the ground under the apple tree. At first, I was excited. Then, I walked over to the ball of feathers that had been singing so merrily only a moment before. The silence was accusing. This didn't have to be. I bent down and looked closer.

You know how birds have their eyes on the sides of their head? This one didn't. Have eyes. Empty sockets stared back at me. My carelessly aimed BB had entered one eye and exited the other. A perfect kill. The blue sky and the puffy white clouds were still there but the singing wasn't. I backed away from my quarry slowly, then turned and went home. My enthusiasm for hunting birds was cured. From that time on, my targets were inanimate objects.

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