Every so often an opportunity presents for doing something good. I had such a chance today.
Early this morning I was at work at my very urban hospital and in a patient's room. I was just mentioning to him why his room was one of my favorites because the windows looked out into a grassy courtyard of sorts. This morning I noticed that the landscaping crew was working to clear out the flower beds. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something fly but it disappeared behind a conifer tree. What was that? It was not normal flight. I continued to watch and it flew again - this time around the corner of the building and out of site to the front of the hospital. The second time I got a good enough look to make an identification. "A woodcock" I said to my patient, "I'll be right back."
I walked to the front of the hospital where I saw it fly. Along the base of the building were four window wells. In the last window well was the woodcock tucked away into the corner. The black box is, apparently, a rat trap though I haven't verified this.
Above is a cropped view of the bird tucked safely into the corner atop some blown leaves. I made a couple more visits to check on the bird throughout the day. I considered that the bird might have been able to fly out, but there was something about the depth and the shape of the space that made me think it could have trouble. Then, even if it was able to get out, it would still not be in a good place. I finished out my day and returned with a packing box a colleague gave me.
It took me time to figure out how to get down into the well but I did. The bird fluttered against the window and in doing this it confirmed my concern that it was likely it would not have been able to fly out on its own.
I took the woodcock to a woods with meadow and lake near my house.
I opened the box and it didn't move. However, when I tried to scoop it up in my hands it needed no additional encouragement to fly out of the box and to the ground. It was clearly in familiar territory now as it scuttled into the undergrowth so quickly that I was unable to get a photo. Ten seconds later it was out of sight.
The woodcock left a few feathers and a dollop of poop behind in its temporary shelter. A nice ending to a little unexpected birding for the day.
All photos were taken with my iPhone 5.