Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Wild Life Adventure, Part One

Photo of a Murre, by Patrick J. Endres

Quote from antrhopolis.com.

"Can you imagine a seabird that can dive almost the length of a football field straight down below the surface of the sea, and travels up to 6000 km a year in migration - covering up to 1000 km of that distance by swimming?"

Well, I certainly couldn't until I found a murre while walking Boska on the beach the other night. I had no idea it was a murre at the time; I just assumed it was a seagull, like 99.9 percent of the birds that were dive bombing the area, hoping for a snack off of one of the many local fishermen's bait buckets.

I noticed the bird as we were wandering along the shoreline next to the water. I'd been reading as I walked, while Boska alternated between checking out the various effluvia washed up on the sand and exchanging greetings with other dogs by way of sniffing each other's butts. I don't usually notice anything outside of my book when I'm reading, but something about this bird made me stop. It was the shape and size of a seagull, with a brown head, back and wings. Nothing strange there, it looked like a gull. But it was sitting, not standing, right on the edge of the surf, just staring out to sea. Several people walked past it, close enough to send your average bird fluttering away. Not this one. There was a bizarre sort of resignation in its posture, like some sort of avian fisherman's widow, waiting for the husband who would never return.

I went in for a closer look. So did Boska, who decided that the bird looked like a good chew toy. She ran in before I could stop her and snapped at it; it shyed away and pecked at Boska, wings barely fluttering. It was obvious that the bird was injured or sick, and couldn't fly. I reached towards it and barely evaded a peck from its two inch beak. I debated whether I should run and call the SPCA or someone more experienced in bird rescue; give me a litter of feral kittens to catch and socialize any day.

A wave came in and the bird was caught in the backwash; it was pulled helplessly towards the the ocean. Oh, hell. No time to think about it, so I took off my hoodie, dropped it over the bird so everything but its head was covered, and scooped both hoodie and birdie up. It barely struggled, just looked around as if trying to figure out why it was suddenly off the ground. I kept my face away from its beak - I knew what damage they could inflict. Hey, I've seen The Birds!

I walked back along the beach - I'd found the bird approximately 8 city blocks away from home. It was cold and foggy; my tanktop wasn't doing a lot to keep me warm. Neither was having soggy fabric and bird cradled against me. Boska trotted along beside me, her leash trailing in the sand. When we went up off the beach into my neighborhood, the Outer Sunset, however, I had to grab the leash again, so I was wrangling Boska, my book and the bird, which was starting to get antsy under my hoodie. I tried not to hold it too tightly, but kept seeing visions of it wriggling up out of my arms and going after my eyes. Too many horror movies.

I made it home, eyeballs intact, and put the bird in a cat carrier lined with a towel, then got on the phone trying to find a place that did wild life rehabilitation. After a half hour of being passed from SPCA to the Marine Wildlife Center and number of places I don't even remember in between, I finally reached the emergency line of Wild Care in San Rafael. They were closed, but the woman I spoke with said that they'd wait for me if I wanted to bring the bird in right away.
Figuring that the life expectancy of a bird in a house with 9 cats and two dogs wasn't that good, even inside a carrier, aside from the fact that I had no idea how to care for a sick or wounded bird, I decided the 30 minute drive across the Golden Gate Bridge would be worth it.


  • At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When will we get the rest of the story??
    I need to know what happened! Good descriptive writing, by the way---

  • At 9:29 AM, Blogger zhadi said…

    I'm working on it, I'm workign on it...


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