I am heartbroken to share the news that the little sanderling succumbed to whatever injuries it sustained from get entangled in fishing line. Yesterday morning it seemed fine and I saw it jump up at least a foot in an attempt to fly. Perhaps that broke something further that was already broken. For the next several hours, the bird stood still in the sun. The bird started to walk around later in the day and it was clear something was wrong because it was not walking properly. It appeared tipped over with its head down and its tail up. After dinner, the bird’s head seemed to be stuck back and it started flopping around. It was heartbreaking to watch. Regis picked up the bird and held it still and it drifted off to sleep. I eventually took over.
I sat on the couch with the bird in my hand and felt its heart beating and the warmth emanating from its little body. I was struggling to determine what to do for it. If we put it down, it would start flopping around again. Something was broken that I didn’t have the skills to fix. As I looked down at the little bird and watched its tiny eyes flutter, I hated to think that little spark of life inside was going to go out.
As I held the bird, I looked out back and saw a squirrel sitting on top of the owl box. This little squirrel has been hanging out at the box for the last several days and often perches on top with its little paws held above its belly. We believe the squirrel has either had babies or is preparing to have babies. It gave me reason to think about the circle of life.
I decided to take the bird to the emergency vet. Regis drove and I held the bird. Because of Covid, we were not allowed inside the vet. We called the number to let them know we were outside and two techs came out to retrieve the bird. I explained why I was holding it and one of the techs gently took the bird into her hands. After my description of events and a quick look at the bird, they were certain it had a neurological problem. There would not be a good outcome for this little sanderling. I was heartened to see the techs be so gentle with the little bird as they took it inside. That was the best place for it to be under the circumstances.
I have had a string of failures recently in rehabilitating wildlife, but Topaz, the blue jay we raised last spring, visits occasionally and I am reminded that the success stories make it worth trying. Also, we look forward to seeing what mama squirrel is up to in that owl box.