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 Monday, July 21 at her family’s apartment on Water Street.
She and her father, Doug, went to investigate the noise, and the sight was upsetting for Madelyn.
“We came outside, and it was over there,” Madelyn pointed 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 Bacalieu 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 take care of the bird instead.
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 sitting on the ground directly below the bird. Doug picked it up and proceeded up the outside staircase, as close as he could get 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 Monday 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.
But Lucky 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 Tuesday 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 told The Compass that 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 en route to the Baccalieu Trail Animal Hospital.
“The bird is presently being transported to the local veterinarian office in Bay Roberts, where it will be assessed,” the email that was received at 5:30 Tuesday evening said.
The fate of Lucky is still 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/snp/injured_orphaned.html for details, or in the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region, call the officer at Paddy’s Pond at 709-729-4180.