Isbel Diaz Torres

The dove, curled up trustfully.

Saving a life, be it a plant or an animal, is always one’s duty.  That’s why when I discovered a gray chick, tucked down between a sidewalk and a wall (both gray), coming to its assistance was like an order for me.

Along with a friend of mine, I was going down O Street, in Havana’s Vedado district, when we spotted something on the ground.  I immediately went up to find what turned out to be a nestling, and I picked it up.  It was so young it didn’t even try to get out of my hands.  I situated it in my palm and we continued on our way, though without really knowing what we would do with the chick.

It didn’t have injuries or physical signs of violence.  That was already something positive, because they often get hurt when they fall out of their nests.  According to my limited ornithological knowledge, it seemed to be a hatchling of one of those amusing “laurel” doves that are so common around here.

One month earlier, on Linea Street, I had rescued a Rosacoli (a species of green parakeet with a red head).  It appeared to have escaped from its cage, and during its attempt at flight had slammed into the wall of a large building.  Looking down, I found it fluttering around.  I was able to catch it in the grass, but after a few minutes, with its continued restlessness, I preferred to free it in a nearby park full of trees and foliage.

O Street, which intersects with busy 23rd Avenue, is also well traveled by vehicles and pedestrians. A few hops by the little gray bird and it would have landed under the shoe of a passerby, the wheels of a car, or between the claws of a street dog or alley cat.  Fortunately, nothing like that happened. My hands served as its shelter, and different from the Rosacoli, the dove curled up trustfully.

A long trip awaited it.  It accompanied us the whole journey from Vedado to outlying San Agustín, where I knew who would be able to take care of it.  In my neighborhood lives Yosvany, a bird-lover friend who I was sure would come to the aid of the chick.

Yosvany owns the most exotic birds, which astonish children and adults alike.  The environmental education work that he carries out is impressive, especially with kids.  When we got there he wasn’t at home.  Nevertheless his wife, who’s also a defender of living things, welcomed the chick lovingly.

A few days later I found out that it didn’t survive, despite the efforts of my friends.  The feeding of a bird so small has its complications.

I felt sorry for the tiny dove and its abbreviated life.  Nevertheless, I’m proud of my friends and myself for having tried to save it.  I’d like to think that the rewards are not always so evident.

Isbel Diaz

Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.

2 thoughts on “Respect for Life

  • Isbel Diaz Torres.

    My wife Darlene and I are also protectors of wildlife. We have had 4 squirrels enter our home to burry their nuts for winter, It was quite a surprise to wake up with a squirrel staring at me. Soon it jumped down on the floor.
    Darlene gently guided it back outside. The others were also put outside.
    Bob Cowdery
    Spokane, WA_USA

  • A touching anecdote, and I’m sure that every good person is with you in spirit.

    Once long ago I found a nestling mockingbird. We fed it hamburger meat and it grew to adulthood in our farmhouse. One day I let it loose and it flew away. The rewards of compassion are always worthwhile!

    Although I agree with your noble sentiments expressed above, I am also bothered by a great sense of contradiction between our natural sense of compassion for animals and our meat-eating lifestyle. I’d love to be a vegetarian or vegan, and tried to be once, but it’s very difficult. What’s the answer?

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