There are those who navigate the repercussions of trauma very well. There have been numerous studies on resiliency conducted in an attempt to understand why some people handle atrocities better than others.
There are many people who are impacted by trauma for the rest of their lives. Trauma that originated from human harm is often quite difficult because it involves the change in trust where people are concerned. People populate our lives and we are not islands. If a person was betrayed by a person or persons it can be incredibly hard to regain that trust. Trust may apply to the person who did the harm as well as to all people.
I would like to share a story about Abigail and Oliver who are two cockatiels that live with me. This is a story of trauma and changing the course of events.
Last fall I had Abigail and Oliver outside for a few moments of cool sunshine. We were at an outside bird feeder and they were taking in the sun and mild breeze. Abigail was on one shoulder and Oliver was on the other. They have been clipped and do not have the ability to fly upward, but they can fly level and downward.
Oliver was a rescued bird whose name is about his little twisted foot. As a toddler his foot was grabbed by a Conure and broken. He was taken to the veterinarian and his foot was put in a cast. He hobbled around in the pet store for a time falling over and being trampled by other cockatiels. He was stepped on and urinated on and was in need of being placed somewhere so he could recover and learn to be a bird. The store owner gave us Oliver to get him out of the chaos. He needed to learn to walk, to step-up, to climb, to clean himself, and to be a bird.
Abigail is the voice of reason. She is a proud bird who thinks through every move before she makes it. She is beautiful and wise. She took to watching over Oliver. Oliver needed some watching over in the beginning.
We have a resident female Coopers Hawk who lives between our property and the neighbors in 2 acre tract of land that is heavily treed. We have outdoor water and the hawk has a wonderful place to hunt. She has lived in my back yard for some years.
The hawk watches me and comes fairly close. She is comfortable being less that 2o feet away at the bird bath where she drinks, the wood pile where she sits, or in the Sycamore Tree where she watches for rodents, baby quail, and other critters that live here as well. We have had conversations of the silent kind. I enjoy her presence.
On this afternoon the hawk flew in from the North East part of the property heading South. Oliver caught a glimpse of the hawk as she flew by into the neighbor’s property. He panicked. He flew off my shoulder and in the direction of the Coopers Hawk. Abilgail screamed and flew in the opposite direction away from the hawk. I was stuck in the middle. Who do I rescue first?
I went for Abigail as she was closer and held her close as I took out in a sprint over rocks and a ravine to get to the neighbors property where I had to jump a high wall. I heard Oliver screaming. I saw the hawk circling and beginning her descent. Just as I was about to hurdle the rock wall Abigail got loose and flew to the Chamomile Patch. She was almost invisible and hiding beneath generous dense sprays of daisy-like chamomile.
I thought for a split second. ‘Leave her there, she is hidden, get to Oliver, Abigail will be fine hiding.’
I didn’t interrupt my hurdle over the rock wall. Oliver was on the ground and the hawk was within 10 feet. I snatched up Oliver and held him to my chest as I ran back to the Chamomile Patch to retrieve Abigail.
I heard Abigail screaming. This is the scream only heard when very bad things are happening. It is a death scream.
Abigail was gone from the Chamomile Patch and in the talons of the hawk now over 20 feet above in the air.
Oliver answered each of Abigail screams with an ear-piercing scream. He wrestled to get loose from my hold as he watched the hawk with Abigail up high. He wanted to fly toward her and the hawk. He screamed like an angry and frightened animal.
The hawk was heading to the top of the Arizona Cypress, the tallest tree on the North East side of the property.
I was running as fast as I could.
I reached the base of the tree, looked up at the hawk, and screamed one word.
The hawk looked at me. Abigail stopped screaming. Oliver bit into my left fore finger and couldn’t let go as he trembled and made a low guttural noise.
The entire world stopped for a moment.
Blood was dripping from my finger and Oliver’s little face was stained red with my blood.
The hawk dropped Abigail and flew away.
I found Abigail in the next tree over sitting silently on a branch perfectly still.
I called out her name. She looked at me. I held out my finger for her to step-up. She stepped up to my finger and I put her on my shoulder and we three went into the house.
Abigail was not physically harmed. Oliver couldn’t look at Abigail for several hours.
This story has many stories within the story. I find the same is true with all of us as people. We live in relation to each other and occupy different roles as we interact, caretake, or love one another.
I don’t know why the hawk didn’t kill Abigail. I don’t know why she dropped her following my very long and loud ‘No.’
Oliver is now grown up, strong, and proud. Abigail is still the voice of reason. The hawk sometimes comes to the tree outside the window where the birds have their inside play area. She looks at them for a few minutes and then flies away. They run and hide under the bed or take off into another room in the house. They had an encounter with a Coopers Hawk.
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Last reviewed: 11 Jan 2012