Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Seagull with a Broken Wing

It happened over Memorial Day weekend--the official start of the summer holiday season. There were a lot more people along Port Hueneme beach, and a lot more cars in the parking lot, more than we had seen all year. As my husband and I were driving away from our condo, we spotted the seagull in the street. He must've just been sideswiped by a car. His wing was busted and dragging the ground, and he was making his way from East Surfside Drive to the curb, heading towards the parking lot and beach. We knew we would need to come back later that evening to look for the little guy.

But we didn't find him until Saturday morning. I saw him early. He was being fed by a homeless man near one of the picnic tables. I was grateful for the compassion being shown to the bird by the man. There are a couple of seagulls on Port Hueneme beach who have bad legs, but if a seagull can't fly, then it won't be able to survive for very long.

Later in the afternoon, after my husband had completed his work, we parked our car in the crowded parking lot, and carried a box and towel with us to the beach. We were determined to find him, cause we knew he was out there. Here is a photo taken at a less crowded time, this one showing a perfectly healthy seagull:

Eventually we found the little guy, after walking past a lot of family-filled picnic tables. I brought my camera this time to take a couple of pictures before the rescue. He was a young seagull, and his wing was really bad.

Like the rescue of the other broken-winged seagull we did earlier this year, my husband was the one who headed the bird off at the pass while I ran after him coming from the opposite direction. I threw the towel over him, careful not to let him nip at my hand. I used the towel to gently hold onto his beak and body as I put him inside the box.

We drove him down PCH, turned onto Malibu Canyon Road, and into the canyon to the California Wildlife Center, hoping upon hope that the bird's wing could be repaired. We were very impressed with the facility, and were greeted by a cage of baby orphaned ducks near CWC's front entrance.

We watched through the examining room window, and saw the doctor taking a look at the seagull's wing. We knew the bird was in good hands, so we left feeling rewarded by our rescue. A few days later I called the facility to see how our seagull was doing. They informed me that the little guy had to be euthanized, his wing was just too far gone. We were so saddened to hear about our little friend, but we knew his passing was a gentle one, and not one of struggle and pain.

I can still remember seeing him walk the beach, his reflexes couldn't stop him from trying to move his wing (jerking it), but I knew it had been painful for him. To whatever degree of pain one might want to argue that a seagull can feel, no one would ever be able to convince me that he wasn't suffering, nor that there wasn't a soul inside that little bird... or any living creature on this earth, for that matter.

My husband and I said our silent goodbyes to the broken-winged seagull, sending energy for his transition, and for his next life, and to whatever new adventure that life will bring. Farewell, little friend. Your wings are okay now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hundreds of Cormorants Flying North

When I strolled out on Port Hueneme beach this afternoon, I saw a continuous stream of black flutters over the ocean... Cormorants flying in formation--hundreds of them!

I ran to the end of Port Hueneme pier to try and get a better photograph, between the fishing poles. This was the best my zoom could do on my point-and-shoot camera:

It was wonderful seeing all those Cormorants together like that.

I haven't seen any Western Grebes for about three weeks. I'm sure they have migrated back to their spring/summer lakes by now. The last grebe I saw on shore (the last one I rescued) was on Friday, April 3rd. Here's the little guy's photo:

My girlfriend, Judie, was with me that day. She had come for a visit all the way from Colorado. She stood guard by the helpless grebe while I ran back to my condo to get a box. These grebes are not supposed to be on land. They're a pure aquatic bird, and their sternum bones are not well-protected. It is not good for them to be out of the water.

I set him on a donut-cushioned towel, and we drove him up to Carpinteria where we rendezvoused with Connie, a bird rescue person from Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network. She took him, along with three other seabirds, to June's care facility in Goleta.

After seeing oodles of Cormorants today, I saw quite a few pelicans resting on the sands near Port Hueneme Harbor.

The seagulls accompanied this gal along the sand cliff:

There were lots of seabirds today. More photos to follow... just not enough time tonight. I've got to fly off. Bye for now.