Episode 171 – Human-Avian Encounters

For those who never heard of parahawking (which I’ve since discovered has been demoted to a sport), here’s a trailer for a film on the subject.

Frankly I much prefer the encounters that occur spontaneously. To me, there’s something extremely special about a close encounter with any wild animals in their natural environments. There’s also something about the encounters with powerful raptors that seem to have particularly potent effects. Once early in my veterinary career, a young man brought in an osprey who had been so seriously injured there was no way we could save him. But even though the bird’s bones were shattered and he was covered with dirt and blood, it didn’t matter. He was such a magnificent creature we were all in awe of him.

Right to the end, he was so determined to fight for his freedom that I couldn’t imagine how the young man ever managed to pick him up from the side of the road, let alone transport him the considerable distance to the clinic. Later one of the techs who had gone to high school with him said it was probably because he was higher than a kite. Evidently he was no stranger to drugs back in the age of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. And serving in Vietnam had only made the problem—and life—worse for him.

I don’t know what went on between that man and that osprey. But I do knew that whatever it was was very special. They both held it together long enough for the man to get the bird to the clinic. Within days after the bird died, the young man launched himself from a railroad trestle that spanned the river far below. Someone who saw it said it looked like he was trying to fly.The medical examiner said he probably died on impact.

Even all of these years later, I still wonder what have happened if we’d been able to save the bird.