My car gained speed as I merged onto the highway. I barely finished merging when I noticed a large dead bird on the side of the road. It was a big beautiful owl. Copper brown with white spots. So majestic looking.
Yet, so dead.
I was overwhelmed with sadness. I can’t explain why. I know animals die. Birds get hit by cars all the time. But for some strange reason the death of this owl troubled me more than I would have expected. Maybe it’s because I’ve never seen an owl up close, let alone a dead one. Maybe it had something to do with its size. It’s beauty, or the fact that it was once so alive. It just seemed like it shouldn’t be dead. I imagined how it must have once flown in the sky above me, how it once sat perched on a treetop playing its role in an ecosystem.
Why was I so moved by this dead owl? Perhaps it’s because its death didn’t seem natural to me. Perhaps it’s because somehow it represents our precarious relationship with nature, the dangerous encroachment of human expansion onto lands where wildlife takes refuge. There was a new home development going in just a few hundred yards away from where I saw my dead owl. Maybe my owl was displaced by new housing. Perhaps it was flying in new territory, or perhaps it was old and picked that place to die. I’ll never know. But I’ll never forget the sadness that filled my soul.
Like so many, I love nature. I love wildlife. I try to do what I can to protect our environment and wildlife. My hope is to be part of a caring community that understands its role as stewards of the earth. I know we can’t always stop the urban sprawl that’s taking place; that we humans will continue to push out wildlife, but on this particular morning I couldn’t help but think about how we’ve dropped the ball when it comes to caring for our environment and wildlife. I couldn’t help but consider the impact of climate change, of our mishandling of responsibility to the earth.
I was sad.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can do a better job. We have choices. We have voices. Perhaps we can pay more attention to those who do speak up when we make plans to develop further into wildlife areas and environmentally sensitive terrain. Perhaps we can do a better job at mitigating our impact on the environment around us.
Let’s not underestimate the power of an active community. When we have an opportunity to lend our voice or our dollars to environmental and wildlife advocacy we should be prepared to step up to lend support.
What we do matters.