Last Sunday Janet spotted something odd way out in the middle of the lake. Upon investigation we found a Great Egret floating in the water, apparently dead. But his head was just a little bit to upright, so she reached over and picked him up. He was alive, but just barely.
We pedaled quickly back to the truck then drove down to Project Wildlife with Janet wrapping him in towels and sweaters and herself, trying to warm him up. By the time we got there his breathing was more normal and he was moving a little bit. Project Wildlife did triage then transferred him to Sea World for rehab. Kim, at Sea World, told me that he appeared to have suffered an impact – and I remember seeing a very fast speedboat go by shortly before we found him. He was probably stunned, shocked, and hypothermic when we found him.
Rehab went better than expected and he was ready to release today. We met Jonathan, the rehabber, at Lake Hodges and he let Janet do the honors. The video tells the rest of the story.
It is difficult to rescue birds and we have a low success rate. That’s why our main objective is prevention. But it sure feels good to have a success when we can’t prevent the injury.
By the way, we did walk the beach and picked up a bunch of fishing line right there before releasing him. Had to be sure and give him the best possible chance.
Janet and I saw a Peregrine Falcon in a tree while out volunteering on Lake Hodges this morning. And it got me to thinking. We’ve seen another one recently – probably this same bird because there aren’t many of them around here. We’ll probably see it again and again if it hangs around for the winter. We’ll come to know its favorite morning perches (we’re out in the mornings) and we’ll get to the point where we know it at a glance without having to go closer and squint up our old eyes trying to make out its patterning.
I know this will happen because it has already happened with so many other birds (and coyotes) that we see on the lake. Do you know how many different ways a Snowy Egret can catch a meal? We don’t – yet – because we keep seeing new ones. Have you seen coyotes hunt and catch fish from the shore? Or heard the swishing sound of thousands of minnows leaping from the surface of the water?
Awareness of all of these details bring the richness of life into focus. This is one of the nice things about spending a lot of time in the same place. You get to know it more intimately than if you just go there once or twice a year and power yourself along a trail on foot or mountain bike. I urge you to try it. Pick a place you love and spend lots of slow time there with your focus outwards on the life around you.
And while you are there, do what you can to help that wildlife survive the onslaught of civilization. Bring back some litter, pull some fishing line out of the brush or rocks, pull some invasive weeds, etc. It may not seem like a lot, but you’re just one person. Do what you can. It is more than most people do. And it does matter.