I Should Have Listened

I killed a bird today.

I never meant to, but it happened. Earlier this summer, I bought some netting in an attempt to protect some berry bushes, and I also put it over my squash after a chipmunk got the only fruit on the vine. I was discouraged and just wanted to protect my harvest. With all the awful news about climate change, I often worry I’m not growing enough food for my family just in case…

So I put the netting up. I was ambivalent about it from the start. It was plastic, and I’ve been trying to avoid that when possible. Yet I hoped I could use it each year. I envisioned it as a shield.

Instead, it has more in common with fly tape. Shortly after putting it up, I had to free a tangled chipmunk. The little guy was fine, but it left me shaken. I started checking every day until it seemed that all was well.

Until today. I found the sparrow while watering the garden. The poor bird struggled to escape. Using garden gloves and scissors, I carefully snipped the net and spoke calmly. I hoped that would be all, just like the chipmunk. Then I noticed its bloodied wing. She couldn’t fly and struggled to stand. Fighting against the sinking feeling, I called the local wildlife rehab and prepared to transport the sparrow. I opened the box I put her in just before we left and found her stiff, lifeless body.

I felt awful. I still feel awful. I cried and my husband hugged me.

The thing is, I kept pulling regular omens relating to warnings from the land spirits. I couldn’t figure out what it was. The consistency was alarming, and I started to wonder if it could be a larger warming due to everything else going on in the world. Today, when I held that tiny lifeless bird, it all solidified.

They’d been telling me, begging me, to take it down. I should have done it after the chipmunk. I should have known…

When I called the rehab to let her know what happened, she comforted me and shared a similar story. Only she listened to the first one. She said the bird bit her, telling her to take it down.

The netting is gone. We buried the bird beneath the birch sapling, a symbol of new beginnings. I promised to get rid of it, and I did. I ripped it all off and put it away. I have to figure out what to do with it. Perhaps I can re purpose it elsewhere in the home to keep it out of the landfills. The thought of other creatures, especially ocean animals, getting tangled in it, horrifies me. I felt so guilty while I untangled the bird. It wasn’t fair. She wasn’t even going after my squash – she was eating the bugs! Thinking of the many, many animals tangled up in garden and fishing netting … it breaks my heart. And I just contributed to that atrocity.

It’s not worth it. I need to find a way to share. I think of the vineyard where I went blueberry picking. Nothing is covered in netting, but there’s enough to go around. I just need to add more blueberries, plant more squash, and plan to share with my wild cousins.

There has to be a better way. We all have to find a better way.

We all need to be better listeners…

Published by M. A. Phillips

An author and Druid living in Northern NY.

7 thoughts on “I Should Have Listened

  1. I’m so sorry that this happened. Since you are sharing your story, others will learn about the dangers. When we know better, we do better. 💗

  2. I feel the hurt and self condemnation you are voicing. Over here we have developers netting over trees to prevent them being nested in, thus making them easier to fell to make space for more housing. “We” are cutting nets and sabotaging installations that cover entire cliffs or woodlands. Everything has a cost, and you’ve realised yours. Learn, and honour the cost, but don’t cry any more. We’ve used nets on our own fruit crops, but on the whole the trouble for both us and the creatures we inevitably share with is too great and we simply grin and watch them at their harvest in the knowledge we will still have enough for a pie. May your harvest be as sufficient.

  3. So sweet and sad. I had a similar experience, didn’t heed the warnings and felt horrible. Thank you for sharing.


  4. I had to kill a mouse when I tried rescuing it and found I had accidentally broke it’s back. It was my first real kill and I was quite saddened by what I had to do. But the important thing is we care. You now know the warnings and make sure every squash grown is used or give to those who will use it. Then Sparrow’s death will not have been in vain. X

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