24 04 2014

I believe in fate. Today fate intervened and I was able to help another creature and hopefully save its life.

Most days I take a “back way” home after dropping my daughter off at preschool. It gives me the chance to stalk wildlife and our twins a chance to nap in the car. It’s a win-win situation! Today I was driving one of my many favorite routes when I saw a bird “dead” in the road ahead. It was a northern flicker. I have always felt that animals deserve better than to become part of the pavement and I often stop to move dead things to a better resting place. I pulled over to do just that. When I approached the flicker it was not moving and there was a half-dollar sized puddle of blood under its head. I bent down and reached out my hand to touch the silky feathers. As I did the flicker flew off the pavement straight for my head. I was quite shocked as I watched it fly about 15 ft where it crashed into a bush. I went into the brush after it and made another failed attempt to capture it. Then I had an idea. I grabbed a bag out of the backed the car. I went to where the exhausted bird was laying on the ground. I covered the bird with the bag and carefully picked it up. Holding it snugly I went back to the car.

Now that I had the bird I had to figure out what to do next. My first thought was to consult some people that used to be wildlife rehabilitators. I went to their house and they were not home. My next option was to call another wildlife rehabilitator who is farther away. I called her and she instructed me to let the bird rest in a cardboard box until tomorrow. I asked about the bleeding and she said that I could clean the wounds with a little warm water. I did just that. I put paper towels in a box. I got some warm water and cotton balls. When everything was ready I carefully but firmly picked the flicker out of the bag. When I took him out of the bag I noticed the black marks on the side of his face. They look like a mustache and I knew from that that he was a male. He was nervous and I talked to him as I worked. The warm water seemed soothing. He fluffed his head feather, closed his eyes, and tilted his head so I could clean the wounds. First one side and then the other. I gave him a few drops of water and settled him into the box. He needed rest and I was hopeful that he would be able to fly away tomorrow morning.

When I checked on him this evening it was clear that he was not interested in remaining in the box. As soon as there was a little light shining through the corners he was poking his beak out trying to escape. I opened the box slowly and picked him up. We took a coupe pictures. I walked outside and opened my hands. He immediately took flight and landed, not that gracefully, in a nearby tree. His second landing was better and by his third take off and landing he was looking good.

Good luck to you dear flicker. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help you today and hope that my intervention made a difference for you.



You can watch the video of his release by clicking here.



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