Feb 1, 2013

Friday Rounds Feb. 1

By Deanna Barth

 This particular Friday started out with an assignment. Our wildlife hotline had received a call from a woman reporting an injured coot at San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz.

Within minutes of my arrival, I thought I had found the coot in question. All of the resident waterfowl were either in the water or at the pond's edge, except this one.

I took a while to observe the bird from a distance, and never saw it move. People walked by, children ran past loudly, and even a bicyclist came within a couple of feet of it, and the coot simply turned its head towards the commotion without moving its body.

I assumed this was the coot that had been reported, but I wanted to see it walk to confirm any injury. 

In case it was, I wanted to be ready. I went to my vehicle and grabbed my long-handled net and 'bait'.

With my net positioned for a capture, I tossed a small handful of crumbles towards the coot, and watched it make one pitiful lunging motion towards me, with its left foot curled into a ball.

I quickly flipped the net, catching the coot by surprise.

After 'processing' the bird from the netting material and safely stowing it in a carrier for transport, 
I took a few minutes to walk around the pond and check out the other birds.

The rest of the waterfowl appeared in good shape, so I headed over to Native Animal Rescue (NAR) where the coot would receive medical attention. 
Hopefully it’s able to recover from its injuries.

It had been a while since I’d visited the Santa Cruz area, so after dropping off the coot at NAR, I headed over to the Capitola Wharf to search for injured birds.

I stood at the edge of the beach, scanning with my binoculars. There were 50 or so gulls.  The ones I could see looked good, but I wanted a better look.

I made a tossing motion, letting only a few crumbs fly, and was immediately surrounded by squawking gulls and opportunistic pigeons. None had any noticeable impairments.

I was just about to leave, when one of the pigeons at my feet caught my attention. It would take a couple of steps, then bend down and peck at its feet. From my vantage point, looking down, I couldn't see what it was pecking at.

I knelt down and saw that the poor bird had what looked like hair and string wrapped around both feet, essentially hobbled.

I positioned my capture net, placed a pile of crumbles at the hoop's base, and scooped up the distressed bird.

With its head tucked into my shirt to reduce stress, I began the tedious process of removing all the hairs/strings.

One foot was entangled worse than the other, with strands wrapped tightly around each toe, multiple times. Thankfully, there was no penetration of the skin.

Other than the entanglement, the bird was very fit, so I felt okay releasing it once the material was removed.

After about 10 minutes of careful and meticulous cutting of the hair and string, the bird's  legs were free. I set the pigeon down on the ground and released my grip. It stood at my feet again, pecking at the remaining crumbles, as if nothing had happened.

This was a good day. I felt like I had served my community by being available to respond to a reportedly injured animal, and that I happened to be in the right place at the right time to help an individual that would have likely been overlooked for some time!

Thank you to passerby, Sarah, for taking a photo of the pigeon rescue!