Written by Carolyn Pruitt of Delaware (USA)
I was visiting a friend in Ft Lauderdale, Florida and she suggested we go fishing. She took me to a state wildlife refuge where we bought fishing (catch and release) permits. As we were sitting on the bank of a pond watching our corks bobbing in the water and chatting amiably, I noticed what I thought was a bird landing in a tree, because I saw its wings flap. Several moments later, I noticed the flapping again, and said to my friend, “I think that bird is in trouble.”
We made our way around the edge of the pond where we saw that the bird was hanging by its beak on a tree, seemingly caught on a large piece of twine which had wrapped around its beak and was now caught on a tree limb. The trunk of the tree was hanging out over the water and I attempted to crawl out on the trunk to get the bird, but soon found that the bird was so far out over the water, and the trunk so thin, I was not able to get to the bird.
We Had to Find a Way
My friend and I returned to our fishing spot, and then took the car to the entrance of the sanctuary, where we spoke with a guard. He explained that the state did not allow them to rescue animals but noted there was a bird rescue site just down the road and perhaps they could help us. We drove to the site of the bird sanctuary and one of the women there agreed to come and assist me in finding a boat to rescue the bird.
My friend took her car and went back to our fishing site. I got into the sanctuary truck with my good samaritan bird sanctuary volunteer. We asked the ranger at the gate where we could get a rowboat or canoe, and he stated he would come and unlock the paddleboats and thereby we could reach the bird. As we paddled our way toward the distressed bird, my friend saw us coming from around the bend of the pond and burst into gales of laughter, pointing at us and mimicking our churning legs as we propelled the paddleboat toward the hanging bird.
We used scissors to cut down the bird, which the sanctuary volunteer identified as a baby anhinga who she speculated had fallen out of the nest and somehow had managed to get its beak ensnared by some twine which had been used as nest material. As it fell, the twine caught on a branch and hung the baby by the bill. Who knows how long it had been out there? Perhaps I had actually seen it fall when I saw the first flap of wings. The sanctuary volunteer took the bird and thanked me, stating they would give the baby fluids and try to ensure that it lived.
I checked back with the sanctuary later and was told the baby was fine, that they would nuture it to adulthood and try and release it back into the wild.
This story is brought to you by The Great Animal Rescue Chase.
Click here to learn about Spirit of the Swan, a children’s book about the real life rescue of a trumpeter swan.
Photo credit: Mary Lundeberg