Monday, August 17, 2009

Sick Loon

We were on our way over to the pond this evening when we were greeted by a woman sitting in a truck parked along the road.

"Are you going for a swim? " she asked.

We replied that we were, and she said that they were, but there was a loon stranded on the little beach. I told the saplings to wait at the end of the drive with the dog so I could go check it out, and yes, there was one of "our" beautiful loons, just out of the water on his breast, with head up.

I had some discussion with the woman and her daughter and my own kids, and the Firebird went home for a pair of my heavy gloves and a guinea pig cage. I was worried it would be too small, but it worked. Willow donated her swimming towel and the woman distracted the loon while I dropped the towel over it and pinned it long enough to get it into the cage.

The loon is a striking water bird, a bit smaller than a goose, but with a wicked 4 inch long saber pointed beak for fishing. This one snapped at the towel as I withdrew it.

My initial plan was to drive it directly to a wildlife rehab center not too far from here, but I wanted to call first. I couldn't find the number in the book , and ended up calling a poacher hotline to be told to call state police dispatch for my area who would contact a game warden. Phew.

I called the state police dispatch and gave my information and was told a game warden would be in touch with me. In the meantime the poor loon was at least safe.

I tried calling the animal emergency clinic since it was after hours to see if they had the number for the wildlife center and they also told me to call the police.

We ate a quick supper waiting for the phone to ring-ha. I had read an editorial about someone calling about a deer and watched the deer succumb after several hours of waiting for the game warden, so I decided to call the police back and see if THEY had the number of the place, since the game warden would most likely be taking it there anyhow...

The state police dispatch lady was very helpful and said that the game warden had been paged and had not called in, and she did have the number and logged that I would be taking the loon there myself.

When I called the place, they already knew about the loon, It seems a guy called it in, and the rehab fellow told him to bring it in, and the guy wanted nothing to do with grabbing that loon, I guess, or couldn't get it, and what do you do with it once you have it, put it on your lap and drive there? LOL

So, we found the place with a little difficulty in the dark, the sign is small, although they thankfully had every light on in the place. Still, it is on a heavily traveled road that has a 55 mph speed limit, which made it tricky at night. Cars were passing me in the no passing lane since I was only doing 50 trying to find the place; with the sick loon odoring the car with loon poop, to be polite. LOL. Loons eat fish, use your imagination.

The fellow that met us was amazing, he reached in a grabbed the loon by the bill with one hand and scooped him up with the other and put him in a bigger crate with a big blanket. He told me if I need to know that birds need a lot of padding under them, and I had the poor loon on the bare cage.

I had sent the Firebird to run for it which was quite a distance, and forgot to tell him to put hay or something in it. I suppose I should have thrown the towel in, but I had thrown it over the head of the bird to get it in the cage, and my concern was getting the towel off quickly as I have heard one needs to watch for suffocation using that method.

Once that loon was snapping away in the cage, I wasn't opening it to put hay in. That was one of the reasons to get the loon into professional care ASAP. I can raise orphaned younglings, but sick adult birds are beyond me, especially a wild loon.

The loon isn't going to stay there, it will be transferred elsewhere for diagnosis and there is a third place in the southern part of the state that specializes in loons as another option.

Chances are it is lead poisoning from ingesting lead sinkers. If memory serves some cases are treatable.

I asked to make sure if it recovers they will return it, and he said they do.

This particular place is not funded by the state. From what I could gather they specialize in orphaned raccoon (60 this year) fox (40) skunk (20) groundhog (2 to be released) geese, ducks, hawk and owl. Squirrels go to the squirrel lady, but they take chipmunks and flying.

I will call him back in a few days to see how the loon is doing.

No pics thought about it but it didn't happen. Somehow it feels disrespectful of the sick bird.


Warren said...

I hope things work out well for the loon. I'm glad you were able to get it to a wildlife rehab center.

~Tonia said...

Wow An eventful evening!!