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.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

Made­lyn Clarke of Car­bon­ear holds Lucky, the wild Star­ling, af­ter her dad res­cued him from a three-storey eave­strough.

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