I’m writing this inside a confessional

Do you believe in God? Karma? What about witches? Ghosts? How about signs? Do you believe in signs? I’m sorry, do I need to give you more time to think? Is it none of my business? Have any of you answered out loud yet? Nodded? Shrugged? Sent me a Facebook message telling me to reconnect with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

(You probably wouldn’t be surprised by how many times that has happened. Hint: many of my Facebook friends are Southern and religious. So, visiting Facebook is like visiting the Lord’s website. And he is so pissed!)

Last night Coco was sitting next to one of the glass panes flanking the front door—it’s her new favorite place to practice her crazy—when suddenly out of nowhere she started barking so hard I thought her jaw might fall off. I was in another room, assumed it was a person or a dog walking by the house, so I ran into the foyer and pulled her away from the door. I may or may not have called her a few nasty names while doing so BECAUSE THAT ALWAYS WORKS.

I’d love to see a collection of video clips of the useless, reflexive and profane yelling that owners of herding dogs do throughout the day. And how we always think, THIS time she heard me.

I let my guard down for two seconds and she was right back next to the front door barking (“I just called you a total shit! Did you not take me seriously?”) so I ran back to the foyer, made her sit, and then I looked out onto the porch to see what was making her so deranged.

Let me clear my throat for just a second because I suddenly have an impulse to tell you that I believe in witches.

DO NOT JUDGE.

Sitting at the far edge of the porch was a relatively large white bird. The only white bird I have ever seen in Utah is a seagull. This was not a seagull. And it was just sitting there, eerily still, staring at the front door. I immediately ran up to the office to grab the camera and a memory card hoping that it would still be there when I got back. And it was.

So, let me talk this through for a second. A white bird that I have never seen in Utah is sitting on my porch and neither Coco’s deafening barking or my rapid shutter clicking causes it to fly away. WHY ARE YOU HERE, BIRD? Ghosts are supposed to talk to me through appliances, NOT WILD ANIMALS.

Oh, no. Do I believe in ghosts? If you’re a ghost and you’re reading this, can you leave a comment? Oh, wait. You can’t because your fingers would just float right through the keyboard. WE WILL NEVER KNOW.

I walked back into the house and, after letting out an involuntary shriek, I called Tyrant. Yes, he’s evil and would pull a prank on Hellen Keller. However, he grew up with chickens and might have an idea about why this WHITE BIRD I HAVE NEVER SEEN IN UTAH is just sitting there on my porch. And he probably doesn’t want to be exposed like this, but there is a large beating heart in that man’s chest. And sometimes? Sometimes he has thoughts about things other than torturing me.

But he wasn’t answering his phone, and while I left a message I looked out the window and watched that white bird walk HOLY SHIT up to the welcome mat and sit not two feet from the front door.

A white bird. Sitting on the welcome mat. At my front door. You just started to believe in witches.

Coco’s brain was leaking out of her nose at this point, so I had to take her upstairs and put her in her crate while I figured out what to do. OKAY. One: putting a dog in a crate is not cruel DO NOT EVEN GO THERE. Two: Of course I had to do something! There was a white bird sitting at my front door! What if it was someone’s pet? What if it was the spirit of my dead Uncle Doug? What if it had a little note tied around its ankle containing the exact date and time of the rapture? (Oh, the bragging I would do on Facebook.)

So I called Animal Control, and this is where I am gifting you screenwriters your next scene, because I’m sure the woman put me on speaker phone so that she and everyone else could laugh at the idiot freaking out about a bird.

“There is what?”

“A BIRD! A WHITE BIRD!”

“And it’s doing what?”

“IT’S SITTING AT MY FRONT DOOR!”

“And you’re concerned because?”

“BECAUSE? BECAUSE?! Haven’t you heard of the Book of Revelation?!”

She told me they didn’t handle cases like this (ANIMAL CONTROL IS NOT CONCERNED WITH THE END OF THE WORLD), so she gave me the number of the highway patrol and this is getting more ridiculous with every letter I type. Highway patrol. High-way. Pa-trol. Let me just quote what it says on their website: “Our current area of emphasis is to reduce crime and crashes through proactive policing.” And I’m supposed to call them about the bird on my porch.

“Hey, guys! Listen. I know you’re currently on a dangerous, high-speed chase with a drunk driver, but I’ve got a fucking bird staring the shit out of my front door.”

Luckily Tyrant called me back and said he was out with friends and could come check it out in about an hour. So I did what any sane person would do and sat down next to the window pane and spent some quality time with my special white bird. At this point it had wandered over into a corner right next to the window and would look up at me every time I tapped on the pane. It knew I was there.

I fought the nagging instinct to pick it up and bring it inside where it was much warmer, so you can stop worrying that I did something stupid like that. You would be more than justified thinking that I’d do just that, pick up and cuddle a bird that could potentially be carrying a disfiguring disease. We all know my brain is full of Skittles. But I thought of my children and decided that it was nice not having them in a hospital.

When Tyrant finally showed up, the diagnosis was sadly evident. The bird was really sick. So sick, in fact, that it didn’t even flinch when he picked it up and set it inside a cardboard box we’d lined with a small towel. I said a final goodbye before he took it away, before he googled some key words about sick birds, hit a store for medicine and supplies, and tried to keep it comfortable for the night.

It was dead before morning.

A strange white bird chose my doorstep as the place it wanted to spend its last few hours alive. I just wrote 1,200 words about it, but damn. I am so not ready to think about it.

  • zchamu

    You know… I think he came someplace he saw as warm and safe. We all want to feel safe when we’re slipping the bonds of this earth, I think. And your home was that for this bird. That says a lot about the energy you’ve created around yourself.

    But I’d feel a little weirded, too.

  • Woon

    Doves that are released at weddings, etc. can’t care for themselves and often die. We found one in our neighborhood a few months ago. Totally uncool.

    I’m glad you and Tyrant gave it comfort.

  • jsides

    First of all, this post reminded me of why I love you (and yes I am one of those “Southern and religious” readers :) This is just brilliant and classic Dooce. Since you consider yourself part southern too, do you know about the old, southern myth about birds at night? Well, my grandfather used to tell me that if you see or hear a bird at night that it is a sign someone you know is going to die. I guess it is similar to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. Scary and weird, I know but just a silly old urban legend.

  • Ariel0717

    Awwwwwwww – I THANK you for making the bird (that looks like a pigeon) comfortable until it passed. That was good karma indeed! :) You guys rock!!!!

  • Diorama

    Dove and pigeon are the same as far as symbolism. It is a sign of peace. It’s a good sign for you, even though the poor bird passed away. For him to appear on your doorstep in the evening (L’heure bleue) was a powerful sign. It literally means peace will come to you now.

  • REBottoni

    Probably an albino, they don’t live very long. There are albinos in most species, none of them live very long.

  • VickiG.

    My pigeon didn’t survive either. Thank you for writing about this because this was completely how I felt.

  • OldMuthaHen

    Damn you, HEATHER!!! This post made me cry. CRY CRY CRY. Of course I have the seasonal problem of being depressed right now for no reason (other than change of seasons), and then the bird dying. DEVASTATING.

    I fully blame Tyrant.

  • iliekcheeze

    if i were you, i’d have told that bird to FUCK OFF!

  • Carrieboo

    This is a rock dove (pigeon)…not native to America but there are alot of them now since some person decided to bring them over from Europe years and years ago as pets, now look!
    Some people refer to them as “rats with wings”.
    It was sick or had something broken, nothing you or anyone could have done…part of nature.

  • aladria

    Just love this post. I’m the same way w/ animals. Bless your hearts for helping this little being (not religiously, I mean). The comments were great to read too…gives me a little less despair re. how animals are treated in our world.

  • LynnFlynn

    I don’t care what people say about this because my brain is full of Skittles too and I would have done the exact same thing. This past fall I found a baby squirrel in my yard. It was clearly injured and barley hanging on so I lined a box with a towel and filled a pop bottle with warm water to put under the towel. I figured it should die comfortably. The only reason I didn’t bring it inside was because I could hear my fiance in my head saying “No Manda, DO NOT bring it in the house”.

  • JuStjANe

    Birds in your house are a sign of good luck.

  • thefirecat

    No no no, white bird = GOOD. I am glad it had someone to love and care for it during the last night of its life. Maybe you needed each other. I don’t know why, but maybe you needed to be two souls next to each other for a little bit.

    Loving another being and caring for it is always a good thing. The world is not ending. Not even for the bird. :) And not even for you. It’s not your fault the bird died. I promise. Do you hear me? It’s not your fault.

    (also, “my brain is made of Skittles” is now in the running for next month’s banner, right?)

  • AshesVonDust

    Some people say I give terrible advice, but I really think you should regularly wear this around town:

    http://www.topatoco.com/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=TO&Product_Code=OG-STEAK&Category_Code=OG

  • Pixie

    Sigh…

  • AliciaMaria

    I want to hang out with everyone who posted comments in here about this awesome bird. These are some amazing people. <3

  • jenwilson

    Oh, the poor bird. :( You have an amazing amount of empathy for animals and it’s too bad there aren’t more people like you in the world.

    I’m finally catching up on your posts from the last couple weeks and I have to say, they are brilliant.

  • darkstar

    Okay so, this one time I was home alone on a day off (before kid, obviously) and I was expecting a package delivery so I went to check the front door to see if they’d left a slip.

    Opened the door, there was a pigeon sitting on the welcome mat STARING INTO MY EYES. I did what any sane person would do: screamed loudly at it and slammed the door.

    Reopened the door to see if it was still there AND IT WAS. Just stood there, dancing from foot to foot like it needed to pee, staring at me.

    The next morning it was dead on the welcome mat with a little trail of blood coming out of its pigeon nostrils.

  • bangedout32

    Why am I crying about a bird on someone else’s porch?? I don’t know, but I get it, and at the same time don’t.

  • jessicadennis

    But what was wrong with the poor birdie? And what kind of birdie was it, anyway? A dove of some sort? A white pigeon? At least it died somewhat comfortably? These kinds of things are sadder to me than probably they should be.

  • Squeetthang

    That is so sad. Looks like a white pigeon to me.
    We have many of them here in Savannah and a lot of half white, half black ones as well.

  • Doghouse Mama

    I’m having such a horrible day and now this bird has cracked another chip off my heart. Because if it’s not an omen for you, it feels like an omen for me.

    Please give Tyrant a hug for being so kind to the bird.

  • playrawkstar

    poor little bird! and you! and tyrant! i wonder if the freeze this weekend had something to do with it? kudos to tyrant for trying to save it!

  • mahonegal

    Oh my God that was awesome!

  • Schmutzie

    You maybe know I have a thing with sick and dying and dead birds, so this story hits me.

  • Slangred

    Sigh. I’ve been collecting what my husband and a couple friends have dubbed my “dead bird stories” for a few years now. Not because I’m a fan, but because dead bird stories seem to happen to me with more frequency (as in, EVER) than they do to most other people. All of my (now 4) dead bird stories are actually dying bird stories, which end when the bird, well, dies. None of the dead birds were ever pets or birds I was aware of until they died in my presence. And there was always a swelling emotional/spiritual undercurrent to these random dying bird events. So your “dead bird story” resonates deeply with me and I wish you peace.

  • dawdawsmom

    maybe it was a homing pigeon who came back to say one last goodbye to his beloved bobcat…

  • hybridshadow

    Wow! I am so sorry that the bird died, Heather. Who knows, maybe it sensed some sort of comforting atmosphere coming from your house (and just chose to ignore Coco). Maybe it was just so tired that your house was as far as it could go. Maybe it knew it would get an awesome story written about it. Maybe it IS the beginning of the rapture – who knows. I’m glad you were there to be near it and I am thankful that Tyrant tried to nurse it back to health. I hope you are ok after what, to me, would have been a traumatic experience because the bird died.

    P.S. – I was going to come on here and post as if a ghost had possessed me, but the ending of this entry kind of killed that idea.

  • Ms. Pants

    Sounds like the Universe is telling you to watch out for a message.

  • William

    Uncle Doug. That right there is a perfect name for a White bird.

  • Tracye

    Heather…you are so funny :)

    Well birds are omens so…you and tyrant did the right thing and gave it some comfort in its last 24 hours.

  • madamvonsassypants

    Definitely a dove or white pigeon. Just say it was a dove, because that sounds waaaaaay more ominous.

    Once I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of skittering nails on my dining room floor. Found that my cats had come in the window (!) with a LIVE QUAIL and were having a grand time slowly killing it in my house. I tried to save it twice, but the sad thing didn’t live.

    Entirely different situation, but felt like sharing was necessary. Also related: the time those jerks brought a dead bat into bed with me. NOW how awesome is Coco in comparison??

  • flavia

    you kept one another company.

  • Daisee

    Yes looks like a pigeon – Im so sorry :( I have a difficult time with stories like this – I cant seem to deal with even driving by anything that was hit without breaking in to tears. Too many instances where I live…

    Rest assured that you made this creature as comfortable as possible in his last hours. He was a cute little bugger. ok now im crying.

  • lindzgrl

    It’s definitely a pigeon, not a dove. Pigeons are actually pretty amazing in that they’re the only bird species to have such a wide range of coloring within the same species—they can be grey, brown, black, white, and all combinations in-between. That ruffling thing he was doing is something they do while trying to rest. Sorry to hear he was sick and died, but hopefully he flew many miles before his time.

  • shanteuse

    I think organized religion and its zealots are the cause of all the world’s ills. But I also think that nothing proves the presence of “God” than a sentient being who cannot let another suffer alone. The bird might have been a catalyst for you to do some deep thinking, for you to learn something about yourself or Tyrant, or for you to forget your own troubles for the moment and focus on something larger. I could not have walked away from that bird any more than you could.

    Everything will be alright.

  • Brookitus

    I had a similar experience, except with a sick squirrel. I called a local animal rescue organization, and they took the squirrel away, but it was too sick and died. I think it had something to do with the coir welcome mat, the squirrel seemed enamored with it. But, there’s nothing scarier than a sick and mangy squirrel staring at you and playing watch dog for your house.

  • tokenblogger

    I agree that she looks to be in the dove/pigeon category.

    Wild birds are hard to nurse back to health. Please don’t feel badly.

    At least she didn’t die without anyone caring about her.

  • HallieLuYa

    Just a simple ceremony, seriously. Some candles, nag champa, a few words asking whatever it is in the house to please leave.

    Sounds silly, and you don’t have to believe in it for it to work. Or there’s that bungalow in Santa Monica just waiting for you :)

  • enothdurft

    I am a grown man. And now I am crying. At work.

  • ChickWhitt

    This is why I always take sick wild animals to the wild animal clinic, so if they die, I don’t have to know it. I can live in denial that the poor little creature is now living it up, talking about how it wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the beautiful, caring, selfless woman who helped it when it was sick.

    So go tell Tyrant to tell you he lied, that the bird flew away, happy as a … bird…

  • ADDGirl

    Heather, your ability to beak my heart while simultaneously making me laugh is uncanny to say the least.

    Thanks for this.

  • anne_cunningham

    so very cool! –’ceptin’ the part where the bird was sick and had to die, but very cool that he had a dignified, albeit short, bird hospice experience with you and Tyrant. you are one strong woman, to watch from inside, and pound down the urge to “bring the bird inside, what if it was someone’s pet…” but then ramped up on what if it has a horrible disease. i’m never that strong. we brought in a mourning dove once, years ago, who had broken her wing. we kept her safe while it healed and we’d hear her mate “mourn” for her outside our house all the while waiting for her to get better. really, though, this is an empowering lovely story, despite the “all birds go to heaven with the dogs” ending.

  • aotlatds

    It looks like one of those white pigeons/doves they release after funerals or other ceremonies. They’re supposed to return to their owner, but sometimes they get a little lost. Poor little thing, glad it got some TLC before it passed.

  • mleah

    I was so hoping that story would end as happily as when you found that Mythical Bobcat in your attic closet.

    RIP little white bird.

  • northerngirl

    Oh. Wow.

    Have you read The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst? If not…don’t.

  • janeingrid

    That’s an albino pigeon! The timing of this story is pretty strange, because early this morning out of nowhere I suddenly remembered the time when I was 12, I brought an injured bird inside for the night, in a shoebox, and it died.

  • aingman

    Oh this is so sad!! Poor bird! I would have done the exact same – freak out, worry and wonder, call someone for help, and do everything I can to save the poor bird. You are a good person, Heather.

  • knolting

    For some reason that made me so sad…