My father, whose degree was in biology, taught me to respect animals with certain exceptions like moles (in my early teens I was asked to go check the mole trap and usually that required putting a shovel through the wriggling creature). Snakes you never kill. When I was 12ish, once in the woods with a friend we came across a snake and stomped it dead. We received no punishment over a slight scolding because it was a Hog-nosed snake and we had to deal with the stench the whole way we carried it home.
The bird. So, I’m near 14 years old and moving. My best friend and I take my bb gun out to the woods (in New Orleans, Kenner actually, this amounts to roughly a field of 12 feet tall weeds with bike paths) and we are shooting at rabbits and dragon flies. I don’t mind the rabbits because they just run away. Dragon flies were cool to shoot because they were so abundant you didn’t feel like you were killing something. It was akin to swatting a mosquitoe. Of course, dragon flies were color coded too. The green ones were easy kills. Blue a little tougher. Orange very hard. Red near impossible to get. Shooting at the birds bothered me. It’s my turn to shoot and we see a black bird up in a dead tree. At my friend’s urging I draw a bead on it. I aim true and then decide I’ll miss on purpose and just scare it off. So I raise the bb gun so that I’m point above its head. I breath in then with a slow exhale I squeeze the trigger and thwack! As you’ve probably guessed, I nailed it! The bird goes from sitting upright on the branch to hanging upside down. Its wings fall open to look like this black upside down cross with what looked like blood flowing from both wings. It hangs for what seems a long time then it falls bouncing on every branch in a way that would have made the Warner Brothers (someone should tell them their home page does not work in Mozilla) proud. It was a horrific scene. I tell Dad the story and he explains to me that it was a Red-winged Black Bird and is a protected animal. I felt badly.