Great Blue Heron Rescue

Rick called that Sunday afternoon about a possible injured Great Blue Heron in my area. Could I go check it out? I logged into the VBSPCA Yahoo Group page and got the address and contact info. I spoke to the property owner, who gave me directions and said that the GBH had been a resident in their canal for many years. The last two days, however, he had not left the canal behind their home and appeared to have a wing injury.

Well, I had no carrier so I needed to improvise. I pulled down an old wardrobe carton from our attic, poked a bunch of holes in it, and taped it back together.  I grabbed some gloves, some eye goggles, and as an afterthought, a bed sheet out of my dryer. It would prove to be the most useful of tools.

Cheryl responded via Yahoo Groups and said she would meet us there. Joe and I drove the 3 minutes to the property and met the property owners, who secured their 3 big dogs, and we located the GBH. It was obvious
even from across the canal that it was seriously injured. Its wing was just dangling and it was scrunched down, low to the ground.

Cheryl arrived and we all moved to the other side of the canal. We “walked” the GBH back to the other side. I had completed the “Rescue and Restraint” training, so I knew that we had to corner this bird in
order to capture it. Low and behold, we suddenly had it up against the corner of a fence! Since Cheryl was behind it, she was the grabber. She did not hesitate. She had it in her arms in an instant! Now, the tricky part. From the training, I remembered that in self-defense the GBH would try to poke your eyes
out.  Sure enough, he uttered a guttural squawk and uncoiled his neck at me.  Three times he lunged. But, Cheryl had a good grip and I had my face turned away. I threw the sheet over his head and he relaxed. We gently wrapped the sheet around him, Cheryl put him in my arms, and we carried him to my SUV.  We could see his blood oozing out from the sheet and down my arm.

Having this magnificent bird in my arms was an incredible and moving experience. He was literally “light as a feather.” I could feel his heart beating against my chest. I prayed that he could be saved. I was moved to
tears.

But sadly, not all rescues have happy endings. Barbara examined him at the shelter and confirmed what we had feared. He had a compound wing fracture, maybe from flying into something hard, possibly an automobile.
The prognosis was poor, and the decision was made to humanely end the suffering of this Great Blue Heron.

Godspeed, Great Blue Heron.….and dance the sky on laughter-silvered wings.

        ~Pam Monahan

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