In A Pickle  

Avian rescue is for the birds

Rescuing injured birds

A sickening thud echoed throughout the room. It was sound I recognize well, when a bird hits a window.

It was Aug. 3, in mid-afternoon. Reluctantly, I walked onto the balcony and looked below but saw nothing. Afterwards, I drove around the corner and a hunch-backed bird hopped across the road in front of me. The injured bird couldn’t fly. I opened up a cloth grocery bag and scooped up the bird and brought it home.

I put the birds in a Sunkist oranges box and covered the top with a small towel. My feathered friend snapped out of his stupor, hammered on the cardboard and shuffled about. Unnerved by the racket, I wondered if he’d find an escape hatch and wreak poopy-havoc in the office. Frantically, I searched the internet for a wild life rehabilitation place as the bird rat-a-tat-tatted in Morse code, calling for his parents to spring him.

Wild Things Rehab came up on my Google search along with Wild Kingdom, a love shop. The rehab's address didn’t exist, but the love shop's address and phone number kept appearing. I wasn’t looking to enhance my love life. That ship sailed and sunk many moons ago.

No contact information for the rehab society was disheartening. After several calls, a reporter provided me with a lead. I got Sydney Platz’s phone number from a local veterinary clinic. The receptionist said the bird could only be euthanized if I brought it in, but Platz would provide guidance on caring for the animal. However, the rehab’s doors weren’t open yet.

I tried emailing and leaving messages for several agencies before texting Platz, but none responded. Platz recommended setting the bird free after a few out hours of rest and that’s what we did. The juvenile Hairy Woodpecker was still unable to fly, so I brought the youngster back inside and waited two more hours.

The poor little guy was distressed and attempted to poke his way out. We took him outside, removed the lid and he ran up a tree. I photographed the bird at the top of the bush and looked for him the next morning. However, junior was gone and several robins had taken over the shrub.

I hoped he had a sprained wing, not a broken one, and he just flew away. If the robins killed him, I would have found his body.

Had the Wild Things Rehab been open, I’d have taken the woodpecker there for proper medical attention, food and rest. The feisty escape artist had a strong will to live. Sadly, the nearest wild life hospital is in Oliver and is only for raptors, I discovered.

In 2016, I searched for a Kelowna area wildlife sanctuary because of a window strike by another bird, a Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker.

(The cartoon character )Yosemite Sam used the bird’s name as an insult, but that yellow belly was no coward. He slammed headlong into the window and knocked himself out. I found him lying on the sidewalk with his feet curled up. His beady little eyes watched me suspiciously as he softly chirped. Maybe he told me to “get lost”, but I didn’t want to leave him at the mercy of our roaming barn cat.

I walked inside the house and donned a pair of thick ski gloves and grabbed a cardboard box. The bird lay there limp and helpless but suddenly the angry avian came back to life and went berserk pecking at my gloves. He would have punched holes in my hands had I had not covered them with the thick padding.

I put the bird in the box and he stomped, shrieked and gave me the stink eye.I found myself in a pickle. What should I do? I asked myself. I had an idea to back away and retrieve the phone book and a camera. Scenes from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds flashed through my mind. That crazed critter got louder and louder, sounding a battle cry for his buddies to come and attack.

Carefully I walked backwards into the farmhouse and collected the items I needed and when I came back outside, I discovered the box open and the woodpecker was gone. What a relief.

It turns out, woodpeckers can take a good wallop to the old noggin, which explained how he survived. Woodpeckers peck with a force between 1,200 to 1,400 Gs (g-force), and while doing so, they wrap their tongue saround their heads to protect them.

Our creator gave woodpeckers’ specialized skulls, beaks, and bones that allow them to peck with immense force and not suffer injuries to the brain. They tear off tree bark and drill to get at the ants within.

Comparing the two woodpeckers, I’m fortunate Hairy was a gentle rescuee, otherwise things may not have ended well for me. Yikes!

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel writes about the humour in every-day life, and gets much of her inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck’s writing style. 

Doreen also has a serious side, shares her views on current events, human-interest stories and sometimes the downright bizarre. 

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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