Flocking Away from The Answer
Flocking Away from the Answer
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By Rachel Johnson
Have you ever been strolling the sandy beaches of the Pleasure Island shoreline and discovered an injured bird? If so you are not the only one. Just exactly what are you supposed to do when this happens?
If you are like most the sight of a pelican’s hooked beak is a tad frightening especially when the bird is in distress. You are probably not going to volunteer to run up to the bird and try to rescue it, nor should you.
Recently, the Island Gazette received a phone call from a concerned citizen who had spotted a bird in apparent distress. The Good Samaritan was hard at work painting an oceanfront home in the 600 block of Carolina Beach South when he first spotted what appeared to be an injured bird.
It quickly became apparent to him that the bird needed to be moved for its own safety. In a matter of a few minutes that it took him to descend two flights of stairs and make his way to the beach, the bird was already in danger.
A dog off of its leash had run ahead of its owner and was quickly approaching the bird that was desperately trying to take flight. The bird was a sitting target.
After gaining the attention of the dog owner, the dog owner re-leashed their pet and moved on farther down the beach. However, the bird remained. It could not move. That is when he called the Island Gazette and the search for help began.
It was amazing the number of phone calls we made only to come up with no solutions. We began by contacting local area Wildlife Representatives and were informed that unless the bird was in immediate danger from an item such as fishing line than they could not legally help. We were advised to call UNCW and the North Carolina Aquarium for further help.
We did, and it was recommended we call the local Veterinarian’s office. We called several all over New Hanover County. From there we were directed to Animal Control who in turn gave us a list of three numbers of people who might offer potential help.
After coming to a dead end and hearing repeatedly that they only handled small birds or no birds at all, we were running out of answers. We contacted the local police department who informed us that they had received several calls about a large bird in distress in the Kure Beach area the prior day, but there was nothing they could do.
We turned to Internet leads. While it is explicitly clear that you are not to touch an injured bird from information found on a variety of different websites, help was not to be found. The following North Carolina birding website found at http://shop-nc.com/birding/bird need.asp says, “Unless you are properly trained, injured birds should be transported to a certified Wildlife Rehabilitator. If you don’t see one near you, you might also try your local Game & Fish Department, Animal Control Office, Humane Society, or veterinarian as these agencies and individuals are often familiar with local wildlife rehabilitation facilities.” The sight continues by saying, “If a bird appears to be sick, you should not handle it. Rather, report it to a trained professional in order to avoid contact with diseases.” The sight includes a listing with contact numbers and emails of Wildlife Rehabilitators in the local area; however, the closest one listed was in Brunswick County (Leland) and is listed as only dealing with small mammals and specializes in squirrels. This was not going to be the answer.
Another dead end. Meanwhile the bird sat upon the shore needing help. Many people stopped to glance at the bird. It seemed that finding help was becoming a nearly impossible task. Eventually the bird found its way with a little help into the water where it could possibly survive. However, the ultimate problem was not solved. Who do you call for help in a situation like this? It is bound to happen again and is certainly not the first time something of this manner has occurred. Despite the fact that according to www.coastalguide.com/ packet/nc-wildlife.shtml this immediate area is blessed with some of “the finest wildlife viewing and bird watching opportunities in the country,” we do not have the qualified specialists to handle the unique problems of this benefit of nature.
It is crucial to understand the important role birds and especially water birds play in our world. The website found at http://www.audubon.org/bird/waterbirds/W... gives us a small peek at why they are so important: “Birds are crucial to the healthy functioning of many natural systems on Earth. Birds of all kinds have played important roles in human history, yet water birds share with us special, intimate relationships based on admiration, imagination, exploitation, and the watery habitats we both require or enjoy. The importance of these species ranges from the biological niches they occupy to nutrition, income, and aesthetic inspiration.
Water birds play an integral role in a variety of ecosystems. They are recyclers, predators, and prey. Because they require water and associated habitat of adequate quality and quantity, their successes or declines are indicative of the health of environments.
Today, water birds are big business. Domestic water birds provide the world with meat, eggs, feathers, and down. Bird hunting and bird watching together are a $35 billion industry. On the other hand, water birds occasionally compete with humans for resources, and are thus sometimes reviled for their consumption of our crops and aqua cultural products. Finally, with increasing frequency, water birds and other birds provide us with insights into the workings of the natural world. Studies of avian evolution, inheritance, learning, population dynamics, flight, hormonal activity, gene expression, brain mapping, and behavior are providing us with answers to questions that have intrigued us for centuries.”
Ultimately, this search for help has led us no closer to an answer to the question of who do you call when you find a sick or distressed bird along the waterways of Pleasure Island. Do our birds simply not count? How can we change this? The search has left us with only more questions then we started out with. If you know the answer, please contact the Island Gazette at 910 458-8156 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.