In June, I was in the middle of a four-mile run when I saw something ahead of me on the edge of the road. A small black garbage bag? A black rubber glove?
It was a crow.
And it was alive.
Every now and then it would try to move, but failed. Eventually its legs ended up behind it.
My gut feeling was that it wasn't going to live. And that seemed cruel, to let it suffer and die. But I didn't know what to do. I thought about picking it up and twisting its neck, which is how I've heard you kill chickens. But I didn't feel capable of doing it.
A older man was walking toward me. Together, we regarded the crow. "Birds live precarious lives," he said with a German accent.
A woman driving her car stopped. She rolled down her window. "Is it still there? Is it still alive?" She had spotted it a few hours earlier.
When we said yes, she said she couldn't stand to think of it suffering. Her plan was to run over it several times. I asked her to wait until I had run down the hill. When I looked back over my shoulder, the older man had walked on and the woman was trying to line up her tire. I ran faster.
A minute later she passed me and slowed down again. "I couldn't do it," she admitted.
When I got home, I called the Audubon society. They thought it was possibly a fledgling crow. And they said that fledgling crows often end up on the ground but are fine. They have blue eyes, but otherwise are hard to tell apart from full-grown crows. In fact, they are not much smaller.
So was my crow a fledgling? I don't think so. And even the Audubon said it was a very bad sign that it could not get its feet under it.
I still wonder if one of us should have killed the crow. And if we had, would it have been a mercy or a murder.