Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Heron In The House and A Donkey On My Doorstep

(Author's Note: The following is a true story. I couldn't make this stuff up....even if I tried. Really.)

This last week has been a flurry of activity, and I have so many entries I'd like to post, but not nearly enough time to recreate what goes on in my life. This one, however needs to be the very least as a public service announcement and as an apology to my husband for putting up with me.... his very own Ellie Mae Clampett (at least that is what he very recently called me).

The story goes like this: Last Friday was my day off. While heading out to run errands, I saw a blue heron standing by the side of the road on the edge of town. Hmmmmm....this is something blue herons typically don't do. They are usually seen in ponds and waterways, spearing frogs, crawfish, and fish with that long beak of theirs. Surely you've seen them if you live in Texas or other states in the south. They are about 3 feet tall. Long legs. Long neck. Long beak.

As I was headed briefly into the next town over, I made a mental note to come back the same way to see if the bird was still there. An hour later, I returned...and yes, in fact, the bird was still standing there. Well shoot. What's a person to do, but do a U-ie in her truck, grab a towel (kept for such emergencies), and try to catch a big bird who looks like it needs help. Upon close examination, the poor bird had a pretty badly broken right wing. My towel is big, so I was able to cover the bird including its eyes, get in my truck, and drive to our vet with it in my lap and its head tucked under my arm.

Our vet clinic doesn't work on birds, but gave me a phone number for the Living Materials Center , a somewhat local facility that will take in wildlife that needs rehabilitating. They agreed to take my feathery friend if I would bring him/her to them. Having not eaten all day, and needing a better way to transport a large bird in traffic, I called Charlie at home, and he offered to fix me a quick sandwich and then would drive with me down to the LMC with our heron. I got home, ready to quickly eat, put the heron in a kennel, and then head south. I walked into the kitchen with the (very quiet, very still, and very large) bird still wrapped in the towel with his/her eyes covered and beak held with my free hand.

Charlie greeted me and said, "Wow. That's some bird.", as I uncovered his/her head so he(Charlie) could get a better look (1st mistake). Then, (2nd mistake) I released the bird's beak while saying, "Watch out for the beak. It looks like it could do some damage." (3rd mistake..I didn't say this soon enough) The bird lays in my arms for oh, about 5 seconds, and then SQUARRRRK!!!! ....It unfolds its neck, and goes straight for Charlie.....RIGHT UP HIS NOSE!

OK, you can laugh now. WE can laugh now, but at the time...when blood was spurting everywhere, and I wasn't exactly sure which part of his face had been ripped off by a 3foot bird that I had invited into our house....we weren't laughing. I was trying to subdue an angry bird. Charlie was spitting blood out of his nose and mouth, and I was trying (mentally) to figure out how we were going to explain this type of injury to an emergency room that had seen Charlie about a month earlier following another run-in with a sharp object. I mean....there was ALOT of blood. ALOT of blood (and blood doesn't even bother me...but I really don't like seeing it coming out of my honey's face). It was several minutes before everything calmed down, the bleeding had subsided, and Charlie got near enough to me (and the bird) to realize that there was no visible wound, only 2 very very small scratches on the side of his face.....and one slightly swollen nostril. Exactly how many people in the world can claim this as a near fatal injury? Believe me, the obviousness of how easily that bird could have pecked his eye out, pulled part of the frontal lobe of his brain out of his right nostril, or left a serious life long scar on his face has not evaded either one of us. We can laugh about this now, when we could be crying (I had nightmares for two nights. Seriously).

The rest of the story is fairly brief. I ate my sandwich (with a queasy stomach, thinking about what I had allowed to happen. Yes, I knew better than to allow myself....even for one moment... to think that a wild animal could be trusted. I have handled too many animals to have permitted this type of thing to happen). We loaded up the heron into a large kennel (It remained calm and subdued for the remainder of its journey), and took it to the LMC. Unfortunately, the heron's broken wing had happened several days prior and infection had set in, and the bird had to be euthanized. I had suspected that this might be the ultimate fate of the heron from the beginning, but I could not with good conscience, drive by that bird and not stop to help. And yes, I would stop again, in a heartbeat. But.....I would hang on to that beak, no matter what.

Charlie jokingly calls me his Ellie Mae. (He doesn't know that she was one of my idols growing up....and that's a compliment of the highest order!).

I'm nearing my stay tuned for part two!


  1. Liz, please keep the dangerous rescue animals out of the house. We are not normal people here at Ararat Acres. For what it's worth, you are much prettier than Ellie Mae from Beverly Hillibilly's. I look forward to your Donkey on the Door Step blog.

  2. I am very glad Charlie is ok. I think the ER might send out social services to make sure there was no spousal abuse going on.