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Rescuing Birds--Not An Easy Task

Of all the correspondence I receive, the majority of it is about rescuing or saving a wild bird. In fact, the article I wrote about saving baby birds is the article I wrote that had the most hits. More people, it seems, are interested in saving birds than in taking up birding as a hobby, something that surprised me at first.

Bird rescues play an important role. They do two things. Some rehabilitate injured wild birds and release them in the wild. Others are a place to leave your parrot or other avian pet if you become too sick to take care of it. Some bird rescue places deal with only one type of bird, while others will care for multiple species.

I am familiar personally with only one rescue organization, the Raptor Trust in Millington, NJ. They run a small zoo where one can see the birds of prey that are too injured to be released. There is also a tiny gift shop that sells some really nice t-shirts with raptor pictures. Other free raptors like to hang around the trees around the zoo. I saw a great horned owl just sitting there (a former patient coming back for a visit, maybe) and a flock of black vultures. Both were exciting to me, as I rarely see owls, and I’d only previously seen black vultures in Florida.

The intentions of bird rescue organizations are always good. Sometimes, however, their actions lead to anger. This following story is summarized from toledoBlade.com.

A pair of geese named Harry and Sally were raising a family in a planter in front of an Ohio post office. The stamp-buyers and letter-mailers enjoyed seeing them and often fed them corn.

A rescue organization named “Nature’s Nursery” came to check on the goslings, and found them running around the parking lot. Fearing for their safety, she moved them to a safe place. She did not move the parents, who became distraught. They walked all around looking for their babies, repeatedly crossing a street to a pond, then back again. You can imagine what happened—one of them, the mother Sally, was hit by a car. Harry, the male goose, is said to be “heartbroken.”

Although many are angry at the directors of Nature’s Nursery, they maintain they did the right thing. The entire gaggle of goslings were in danger of being killed in the parking lot. At least they are safe now—although their poor dad doesn’t realize it. Nature’s Nursery also told the Toledo Blade that in most cases they don’t intervene, that most animal parents do a good job and most of the abandoned nests are, in fact, not abandoned.

It’s always a risky thing to take a baby bird from a nest. In most cases, everyone agrees, the babies should be left alone. In this case, it was sort of a gray area. Harry and Sally Goose were clearly great parents, but they nested in an unsafe place. In my opinion, Nature’s Nursery erred when they left the goose parents alone in the parking lot. The entire family should have been relocated, or they just should have let the goslings take their chances within the white lines of the parking lot. Still, by all accounts, Nature’s Nursery is a great organization, who even built a pair of shoes for a lame goose. It’s just hard to determine the right thing to do when rescuing a bird.


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