A Chance Encounter

by Wendy Wolfe on November 10, 2010

Yesterday I had an encounter with an injured ruffed Grouse.  I was walking the dogs when he scurried from the side of the road further into the bush, obviously unable to walk properly or fly.  I noted where he was and continued my walk.  Leading four dogs at the time did not allow me to help him.   As I continued to walk I pondered whether I should try to help him after my walk with the dogs or let nature take its course.  It’s always a difficult question for me.  The animals have helped me to understand that life and death are all part of the same cycle.  Death isn’t an ending, just a changing of form.  They understand that life feeds life and in the end it all works out.  Still, there is that little girl inside of me who cries when she sees animals suffering even though I know what awaits them on the other side is incredible love and peace.   My goat Ghost taught me a great deal about the process and even ritual of dying…more about that in my November newsletter.

I listened inside and heard that today, I should see what I could do for this beautiful bird.   After my walk, I put a pet carrier in my car and drove to the spot.   As I approached he fluttered and tried to run as best he could.  I stopped, got quiet and let him know my intention was to help him if I could.   He settled a bit and I was able to pick him up, doing so very carefully and placed him in the carrier bedded with hay.   I found a warm completely dark room to keep him in until I could make some calls to find a wildlife rehabilitator.  After calling the DNR I was able to connect with a woman near New London, about 45 minutes from me.   Facing a day packed with communication appointments I wasn’t sure quite how to manage it but with some thought was able to rearrange a few appointments so that I could make the trip and still keep my commitments.

The woman and I carefully took him out of the carrier and she proceeded to examine him noting that neither his wings nor legs were broken.  I knew he had been hit by a car so her conclusion of a concussion made sense to us.   I was struck by the compassion of this woman to care for birds that someone else might hunt for sport.   She showed me around her place so I could meet her Sand Hill Cranes and even a Bald Eagle under her care.  Several were heading out to new homes in the wild or more permanent rehabilitation facilities.  One Crane which is blind in one eye has been with her for many years. She has developed a relationship with this bird as much as any closeness to dog, cat, horse or even human.

You could tell there was not a lot of money in this endeavor but it certainly fed her soul.  She told me she was almost 75 which I would never have guessed.  She was interested in my “work” and we talked about how if you are quiet and observe you really can hear the birds and other animals.   I left the Grouse in her care and headed back towards home.

When I arrived home there was already an email from her.  Upon further examination she discovered that his lower beak was broken and she suspected his back was also broken as he could not stand up.  Of course, neither of these problems could be fixed and so she told me she would help send him home, all the way home.

It was hard to hear that I wouldn’t be able to release him back into his home territory but I also felt that this bird had given me a gift.  He had introduced me to someone who I felt was a kindred spirit.  Someone giving her time and talents to save those that she could and to teach others about the wildlife around us and how we can live in harmony with them.   I would like to think we at least shortened any suffering he was experiencing.

Of course I thought it best to look up Ruffed Grouse in my Animal Spirit Guide book to see what message was here for me.  One of the unique aspects of the Grouse is their mating ritual of “drumming” with their wings and dancing.  My message was to take up my drum and dance and chant.  So that is what I will do now to honor his spirit and mine.  If you want to see a Grouse doing his thing check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcrUUD1b_2Q

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Ludeking November 10, 2010 at 7:22 pm

What a wonderful story Wendy. I feel the same way about interfering with nature. I never know what to do. Next time I will be quiet and listen for guidance. Thank you for sharing this adventure.


Lois Melegari November 24, 2010 at 9:19 pm

If you find other birds that you think could be helped, there is also the Raptor Center in Antigo. I have brought an injured Ruffed Grouse and an injured mallard to them and they rehabilitated the Grouse and released him/her up by my property again. The female mallard was blind in one eye and could not fly so they let her live her life out on the pond in their fenced in area on the campus. It is a good organization and they take in any feathered creature, not just raptors.

Raptor Center 715-623-4015. It is run by Marge and Don Gibson on Rollingwood in Antigo and their numbers are in the Antigo phone book also.

Marge is great with the birds and she spends much time with her staff who are quite dedicated.



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