Today I encountered one of my most unusual wild bird rescues. Watch the short clip below to hear the story and check our Facebook page in a few days for a rehabilitation update.
First, a note on why I post these animal rescue photos and videos:
I don't possess any special ability to rescue animals nor do I feel there's any cosmic coincidence that makes me the one whose path crosses injured animals. I simply keep my eyes open to the fact that animals in need are everywhere. When I find one, I keep a cool head and take action. Simple as that. The reason I've started documenting the experiences is to help people understand how important these rescues are and to show there's nothing scary or overly difficult about a rescue as long as you follow a few pointers:
- Keep a towel or blanket and gloves in your vehicle at all times. Usually you don't need much more than that to get an animal out of harm's way. Use the blanket to corral and wrap the animal and to keep the animal in a secure dark environment. A quick picture or two is fine, but don't subject the scared animal to a barrage of selfies. Wild animals can and often do die from stress in these situations.
- Do not keep the animal as a pet, do not give it food or water unless instructed by a professional, keep it in a separate area from pets or children, and do your very best to get it to an appropriate facility immediately.
- Know ahead of time where you can bring injured wildlife. Keep contacts stored in your phone. It's rare that there isn't an animal care facility, wildlife vet, or licensed rehabilitator within a reasonable distance from wherever you are. I've rescued animals in rural areas of the country while on vacation and have been quickly able to google search for a rehabilitator or call a local vet for suggestions. If the animal is too big to transport, those places might come to you. [DO NOT call a municipal animal control office or the police unless the animal is so severely sick/injured that it needs to be immediately euthanized OR if the animal is posing an immediate threat OR if attempting to rescue the animal puts you or others at severe risk...such as stopping on a highway or handling a rabid animal].
- When you drop off an animal, provide the facility with the precise rescue location. Also, it's customary to make a cash donation. Whether it's a humane society or an independent rehabber, there are numerous costs associated with taking care of a single animal from the moment you drop it off. Ask the facility if you can call or email in a few days for an update. Some will give you a case number. But be patient with the facility, as they are very busy caring for animals and usually don't have much time to respond to information requests.
- ALWAYS wash your hands after handling a wild animal of any kind. And keep them a safe distance from your eyes and fingers in the process of handling. As I know all too well, a bird can crane it's neck and peck your eye. A medium or large bird, like in the video below, doesn't have teeth but does have a strong bill than can clamp down hard on a finger causing lacerations or even a broken bone.
- All injured animals are equally deserving of rescue. Don't pass an animal by because it's too dirty, too "gross", too big, too small, or not worthy of the effort or resources. Whether it's a wet pigeon, a bloody opossum, or a turtle with a broken shell, you've been presented with an opportunity to save a life or relieve suffering. [Baby birds are a special case. Just because you found one doesn't mean it needs you. In fact, most do not. Here are my dos and donts for encountering a baby bird.]
Visit the CornellLab of Ornithology for more information about the unique and stunning cormorant.
The one I rescued today was likely a juvenile, had no visible injury but was unable to fly, was highly stressed, and was in a very precarious position next to a busy street in northeast Los Angeles.