Saving a Sky Rat

A Wildwoods worker inspects the "injured" gull.

A Wildwoods worker inspects the “injured” gull.

When a co-worker mentioned she spotted a wounded gull near our office yesterday, I knew I was in trouble. I’m a sucker for wanting to save injured wildlife, even if it’s a “sky rat,” which are far too abundant. And besides, we both work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has a gull as part of its logo. How could we just ignore it? Not to mention that I am the author of a novel about shorebirds. I could hardly be indifferent to its plight or my readers would revolt.

My co-worker (Mary) thought the gull’s wing might be broken and that it seemed listless. When we went outside to look for it, we couldn’t find it, but a short time later when I happened to look out my window, I saw the gull standing dejectedly on our office dock.

I alerted Mary, who in the meantime had called Wildwoods, a nonprofit local wildlife rehabilitation organization, to see if they would take the gull. They said they would, but that we would have to deliver it. They instructed Mary how to handle the gull, so that when it appeared again, she was ready.

Since I am squeamish about handling wild animals (I don’t even like unhooking the fish I catch), and since it was her “find,” I allowed Mary the honor of capturing the bird. She did so easily, and placed it in a box lined with newspaper. Upon this chance for close inspection, she identified it as a ring-billed gull.

Since Wildwoods was located on my way home, I volunteered to transport the bird. When the box was in the office, the bird was quiet. But once it got in my car, the gull started rustling around. I decided to try a classical radio station to soothe the savage beast. It worked!

I found the Wildwoods building and took the bird in. I was surprised at how weightless the box was. Upon inspecting the gull, the Wildwoods workers said they didn’t think it had any broken bones– instead, they suspected its listlessness might due to a Vitamin B deficiency. They said it’s a common problem due to their diets. Who knew birds could get vitamin deficiencies? They planned to give it a shot and to see if that helps.

If I receive any updates on the gull’s progress, I’ll let you know!

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