I'm not sure why I've started a blog. Perhaps it is to see
if I can write anything non-technical worth reading. Or maybe
give an alternate view of the world, or at least a view of my
world. "blag" is British slang meaning to use well-practiced
blarney to acquire something, e.g., "I blagged my way into the
Oysterband concert". So while many have a blog, I have a blag.
BLAG: DAN'S BLOG
November 1, 2009
This is a true story. (I have to say that because otherwise I'd
be accused of being a nutty animal activist, making stuff up.)
I went bicycling today. It's a precious thing this time of year
because the weather in Northern Illinois isn't always so good, and for
it to be mid 50s and sunny on a weekend in November is good
fortune. In Fall, the sun lies low in the sky, and sundowns are
brief. So, afternoon rides are short.
Now, riding in Northern Illinois isn't the same as in some nearby
states. Getting to the country takes a while, and if one's ride
is short there is little option but to ride on some heavy trafficked
roads. It's something I'm used to. Yet, there are some nice
roads with a little more natural setting about five miles to the west
of where I live. A series of forest preserves stretches
south/north just west of I-94. Along the edge of one preserve is
Riverwoods Road, which is freshly paved and has a three foot
As I peddled south along Riverwoods Road at a fairly good pace, I came
to an area with groves of leafless trees thirty yards from the
road. Nearer to the road was thick prairie.
I saw a bird lying on its side in the road's edge and, as usual,
altered my path to miss the animal in the road. The bird was
fairly big so as I passed I watched near my foot to see if I could
identify the type of bird. The bird's breast was nearest my view
and was brown/cream colored with black speckle running the length of
its belly--most likely a wood
thrush with solid, light brown cover. What struck me is that
the bird appeared to raise its head as I passed. Usually when a
small bird is hit by a car, the demise is swift, so this caught my
After letting cars pass from behind, I turned the bicycle around and
headed back to see if what I saw was true or whether the wind had
caused the illusion of the bird's motion. The wood thrush was, in
fact, still alive... barely. Internal injuries were clear as
there was some blood near the bird's long beak. Time was running
short for this creature.
The wood thrush seemed to realize my presence, blinking its one eye
that wasn't to the pavement and occasionally struggling to move.
Appearing paralyzed, it could only manage to raise its head
slightly. I wondered what the bird's thoughts or imagery might be
at this stage, done in by a world it can't understand--as opposed to,
say, a hawk circling nearby or some other suspect wildlife competing
for survival--and me standing nearby. In a short while, the
thrush's belabored breathing would falter, its carcass lying on its
side near the road's edge.
Five minutes had passed, and the bird's breathing became more intense
but at longer intervals, now more of a strong, audible huff. At
this point, bubbles of blood ran outward along the bird's beak.
than ten huffs. That was it.
The surprising ending to this story is that my original assessment of
paralysis was wrong. With its dying breath, the thrush fluttered
its wings in a brief flurry, enough to upright its body with its beak
tucked neatly beneath its chest, no longer lying as though flattened
helpless. One last attempt at flight--what it was born to do.