Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Don't count your chickens...

Since I spend most of my time outdoors in the middle of nowhere, I come across my fair share of wildlife. Occasionally the critters need some help. So far this year there's been the tiny opposum at the barn (sent to rehab), the paralyzed seagull floating upside down in the creek (just stunned, got his bearings and flew away), and who could forget the stomped up water moccasin (too late for him)...

Yesterday I spied a cormorant waddling around, totally wrapped in fishing net, wings pinned to his sides, dragging more net behind with several sticks and small branches woven in. A feral cat had also spied him. I grabbed the extra shirt I had in the truck and ran the cat off.

The cormorant sped away and made it under a nearby house. He still had plenty of get up and go - a good candidate for assistance. I waited a while but he didn't come out from under the house, so I took a look. The net he was wrapped in had caught on a ladder. He was stuck. This was actually a good thing. Despite his situation he could still outmaneuver me.

I shimmied under the house tossing the shirt over his face. It took several tries before I apprehended him. Got the net pried off of the ladder, and backwards shimmied one handed out from under. Don't know if anyone was around to see me trespassing and crawling around in the dirt or not. I could have used a hand...

Considerably calmer now, the cormorant waited on my trailer while I wrested the tiny scissors out from my multi-blade tool / leatherman. Note to manufacturer: if you need a tool to be able to use your tool... Once the tiny scissors were finally freed, I went to work on the net. It was very tightly wrapped around the bird's neck, legs and both wings and seemed to have been there for a while, as the damage to his wing joints was healed over.

At this point I consulted our local bird rehabber. He thought the cormorant may have lost the use of his wings. He therefore, was not legally able to release him. Nothing stopping me though. Cormorants are crafty, well adapted birds, who feed by diving and swimming. This guy had lived quite a while without use of his wings already, so I elected to release him.

We rode to a secluded spot and I carefully began unwrapping him. Now, this is where this post has anything at all to do with the topic of my blog. The whole time I had been handling and helping this bird, he was completely calm. I congratulated myself, thinking, wow, he really knows that I'm helping him. Isn't it amazing when two different species can communicate and coexist peacefully. Look at me, the wildlife whisperer...

 After all, isn't that really why we do dressage. Because, those rare moments when you and your horse are one, however fleeting, are so sublime...

I continued to indulge in my cross species reverie, carefully removing the last part of the shirt from the cormorants head. The instant he was loose, he jumped straight at my face, stretching his neck as far as he could, and missed pecking out my eye by millimeters. In the same movement he was gone, diving into the creek... I followed the trail of bubbles. He surfaced and dove again several more times. Free at last...


  1. I'm glad he was alright and could be released. I'd have been patting myself on the back too, I mean after all here you are rescuing and probably saving his life that alone would make you feel good. I think it was pretty rude of him to almost blind you though, not much of a thank you after all your hard work.

  2. yay! Cormorants are neat birds, I am glad you helped him out! That is so awesome!

  3. Arlene-

    I may have been a bit dramatic with my description ;), but he did come pretty close to my eye lol.

  4. Golden the Pony Girl-

    They are cool - very sassy birds :)

  5. Wow - good rescue work! It sounds like you got the anger and frustration the bird felt towards all things human that got him into this mess in the first place. Poor guy - I'm glad he's free of that netting.

  6. Billie-

    He cut me down to size pretty quick... pride goeth as they say :)


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