On Lucky and a prayer
Father has difficulty finding assistance for injured Starling
It was the sound of a harsh squeal that got the attention of seven-year-old Madelyn Clarke of Carbonear in the early afternoon of July 21 at her family’s apartment on Water Street.
She and her father, Doug, went to investigate the noise, and Madelyn was shocked by what they found.
“We came outside, and it was over there,” said Madelyn, pointing to an eavestrough three stories up on the back of the Clarke’s apartment complex, where she had previously seen a small bird hanging by a single foot.
Doug decided to call the Town of Carbonear for some help.
“The town told me to call (the) wildlife (department),” he said. “Wildlife told me to call the town.”
Carbonear’s municipal enforcement officer, Gord Parsons, confirmed in situations involving wildlife, he would call the provincial government.
When Doug couldn’t get help, he called the Trinity Conception RCMP, who told him to contact the fire department. Neither could help.
“I was going in circles,” Doug added.
The Baccalieu Trail Animal Hospital in Bay Roberts offered to euthanize the bird — a common Starling — but Madelyn was too upset at the thought. Doug tried to find someone who would help get the bird off the eavestrough.
By suppertime, he had left a message for the wildlife sector of the Department of Environment and Conservation. When he realized no one was coming, he decided to help the suffering animal.
A three-metre stick was lay on the ground directly below the bird. Doug picked it up and proceeded up the outside staircase, getting as close as he could to the bird. He used the stick to unhook the bird’s leg, expecting it to fly. But it didn’t.
It was a three-storey fall, but the bird survived.
A lucky bird
It was late afternoon when The Compass stopped by the Clarke’s apartment to see how Madelyn and the bird, which she affectionately named Lucky, were doing.
Inside a box lined with a blanket, the small brown and yellow bird was laid on its side. Its head was moving back and forth, gazing at its surroundings. Its eyes were blinking in the natural sunlight coming through the window of the family’s living room.
Other than that, Lucky was barely moving.
Doug picked up the bird to take a look at its injured leg, which was bent and bleeding. The other leg was wrapped in string.
“Looks like it could be from his nest,” Doug suggested.
Lucky let out a yelp as Doug used a small pair of scissors to remove the string.
When placed back in the box, Lucky spread its wings, but did not fly. Doug figured he injured a wing in the fall.
Madelyn wanted the bird to be comfortable while waiting for help, so she walked to a nearby store to get him some food.
“She spent her own lunch money on worms,” Doug explained, although the bird wouldn’t eat them.
Overnight, the family kept an eye on Lucky. They put a picture frame over the box, and left the air holes open. They hoped they would receive a call the next morning from wildlife offering to help.
Lucky was still alert in the morning.
Bird pick up
Early the next morning, Doug reached out again for some assistance, and managed to get in contact with someone from animal care at Salmonier Nature Park, about 45 minutes away.
Animal care helps with injured wildlife, and if possible, treats and releases them back into the wild.
Doug said the group was going to pick up the bird, but not for treatment. Rather, they would have it euthanized.
“It’s a sad ending after trying so hard to keep it alive, knowing what the outcome will be,” Doug explained.
But an email to The Compass from the department gave some hope for Lucky’s survival.
“Each situation is handled on a case-by-case basis,” department spokesperson Tina Coffey included in the email.
With only a guideline of factors to assist injured wildlife, there was no sure way to know what would happen until the bird was picked up. Some of the factors include the conservation status of the animal, what the injury is, if it can be rehabilitated, where the incident took place and if there are staff at Salmonier Nature Park to assist, among others.
Just over 24 hours after the Clarke’s removed the bird from the eavestrough, it was being brought to the Baccalieu Trail Animal Hospital by an employee of Salmonier Nature Park. Coffey said the bird was to be assessed at the veterinarian clinic.
Lucky’s fate is unknown, but Madelyn has faith that those who took the bird got it the help it needed. She wants to believe all her efforts have paid off.
The department urges those who come across a wild animal in distress to contact the local conservation officer, or the regional services division of the Department of Natural Resources.
The department’s website lists phone numbers in case of a wildlife injury. Visit http://www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/faq/sn p/injured_orphaned.html for details, or in the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region, call the officer at Paddy’s Pond at 709-729-4180.
Madelyn Clarke of Carbonear holds Lucky, the wild Starling, after her dad rescued him from a three-storey eavestrough.