Death row is a sombre place, but there is plenty of time to see things that would go unremarked by the rest of us. On Ohio’s death row at Chillicothe Correctional Institution, Jeffrey Wogenstahl was watching a starling with a deformed beak last week. Its upper mandible was elongated, and its lower mandible bent. It was having difficulty eating. And Jeff formed a plan:
“This poor starling youngster has its beak all malformed and crooked!! It’s almost twice as long as it should be and the bottom part turns outward and they are NOT aligned at all!! It’s just the end of the beak so I’m not going to watch the poor thing basically starve of course because I can’t see anyway it could eat properly. So I’m going to catch it and trim its beak to as normal a shape as I can. Pretty sure their beaks are like our fingernails so it shouldn’t feel anything. Then I’ll use my emery board to shape it real sharp as it should be. Poor thing beak all deformed!! :-/\”
Jeff managed to trap the starling, and fitted its body into one of his socks to stop it struggling. Using nail clippers, he carefully trimmed the bird’s beak. There was a little bleeding, but Jeff made sure that it stopped before he released the bird.
Jeff looked out for the starling to make sure it was all right:
“I sure hope the bird is all right but I think it will be. It sure is in better shape than before poor thing. 😦 I’m pretty sure the starling came back but just not positive because I didn’t see it that long. And of course its beak isn’t all deformed now and not that noticeable.”
Soon he noticed it! He could see where he had filed a point on the bird’s beak. And now it was able to eat!
“I know absolutely, positively that this is the bird. And it made my day!”
Jeff’s decision to help a creature in distress was almost instantaneous. Planning how to help it took only slightly longer. How many of us would have done what Jeff did?