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Mama and Baby Bird Found Snagged Together by Fishing Lure

Mama and Baby Bird Found Snagged Together by Fishing Lure

International Bird Rescue (IBR) is an organization dedicated to helping aquatic birds, primarily those who have been damaged from oil spills.  On June 24, 2014, a member discovered a grisly sight. While checking on the Elegant Tern colony at Terminal Island near Los Angeles, California, biologist Nick Liberato found a baby tern chick attached to his mama by a three pronged fishing lure.

“I spotted them as I was ushering some stray chicks back through the chick fencing and into the main rookery,” Liberato says. “As is usually the case, tangled birds become noticeable when the rest of the colony moves away as one approaches,” he says. “At first, I thought they were just tangled in monofilament [fishing line], but when I saw that multi-hooked lure puncturing both of them, I knew my tools wouldn’t cut it, so I got them over to you guys [IBR] as quickly as possible.”

Fishing lure removed from mama and chick

The mama tern sustained injuries to her wing and the little chick was imbedded with two of the lure’s hooks through his left leg. Surgery was performed and the two are now separated but are still receiving intensive care and have a guarded prognosis. Andrew Harmon, Director of Marketing and Communication for IBR, told Care2 “at this point, it’s a 50/50 chance of survival for both.”

Bandage treatments and antibiotics are being administered in an attempt to save their lives. IBR writes “We’ve seen cases of monofilament fishing line entangling and injuring multiple seabirds, but this may be our first case of a fishing lure wounding both parent and chick.”

Elegant Terns are federally protected but enforcement of wildlife colonies is difficult at best. Human fishing has always presented a danger to aquatic birds. There is no way to discover how or who caused this horrible fate for the mama and chick.

About Elegant Terns

The scientific name for Elegant Terns is Thalasseus elegans. Their name stems from the gracefulness of flight the terns demonstrate. During breeding season they have a down-turned bill and black crown.

Elegant Terns breed on a small island off the coast of Mexico’s Baja California. During winter time they migrate to Peru, Ecuador and Chile. They feed by plunge-diving for fish in primarily ocean waters. Males offer fish to females as part of the courtship ritual. They are not that aggressive by nature and often nest close to Heermann’s gulls and other more aggressive birds for protection from predators.

Follow Their Updates

If the Terns do survive, IBR plans on releasing them back to the wild.

To discover more about International Bird Rescue and follow the progress of the mama and chick check out their website at

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All photos used with permission of IBR

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2:31PM PDT on Jul 19, 2014

Why are fishermen so ...............careless. Thank you for saving Mama & baby

9:55PM PDT on Jul 17, 2014

Hoping they made it!

8:46PM PDT on Jul 14, 2014

At least they stand a chance at life but it angers me that this happened. Irresponsible.

4:05AM PDT on Jul 12, 2014

This is the perfect counter-example to treasure life

3:50AM PDT on Jul 12, 2014

Thank you to all who love the animals and the planet, and who already signed the petition to protect horses from Pétropolis, if no, please help give an happy end to the sad story of those enslaved animals, and share these petitions :
1) Care 2
To know more on poor horses from Petropolis :
3) Petropolis shame‬
Thank you for sharing

10:37AM PDT on Jul 11, 2014

Glad they are o.k. and someone helped them!

6:34AM PDT on Jul 11, 2014

awful poor birds

5:27PM PDT on Jul 10, 2014

I really hope these two little birdies make it!! I wish people wouldn't fish, and if they did, wouldn't leave animals like this if they made an accident–or did this on purpose.... :/

4:04AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

I see fishing line and hooks embedded in birds all the time. It is tragic and disturbing when there is nothing you can do to help. At least, in this case, the little victims have a chance. So many more go unnoticed, ignored, or just elude capture, only to be found later dead. Sad, sad, sad. Fishermen, please mind your line!

3:43AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

Ditto BJJ!

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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