Monday, March 16, 2009

Rescuing Seagulls

There was a time when I considered seagulls to be a bit of a nuisance.  Before my days on the beach, my occasional contact with them would be while trying to feed my Angel daughters a picnic lunch outside in the open air.  My girls were small in those days, and the unrelenting flocks of scavengers would swoop in and try to steal my children's food.  This did not bode well with a protective mother, so I viewed the large birds as impolite, at best.  Beautiful to look at, but a force to be reckoned with at mealtime outdoors.

When I began my weekly ritual of walking the beaches in search of seaglass, peace and solitude, last year, my very one-sided opinion of the seagulls slowly began to evolve into more of a friendship.  Yes, they like to swoop down and steal the snacks of unsuspecting beachgoers, and yes, they are kleptoparasites, but there is so much more to these majestic birds.  They are smart and graceful and their eyes are quite soulful.  Sometimes, as I am walking along absorbed within my own thoughts, I will sense that I am being followed.  When I turn around, I often find a little web-footed creature waddling along behind me.  It is another reminder that I am never truly alone!

So , as I have become more comfortable and familiar with these lovely winged creatures, I have also developed a sense of kinship with them.  And unfortunately, at times, I will come across a sick or wounded seagull which tugs at my heart just as finding any other being in distress would.  Mark, Angel Daughter Number Two and I rescued our first seagull several months ago by calling every animal rescue sanctuary that we could find and then realizing that the only way to get the bird to help was to bring it ourselves.  We were told that by covering the seagull with a towel, it would become docile and could then be lifted easily.  With our first rescue, there were three of us and the seagull.  With my second rescue, I was, of course, completely alone.  With a nearly dead cellphone.  At five o'clock.  When everyone who works in an animal rescue organization goes home.  With everyone else who was on the beach, stopping to take a brief look(and I mean very brief) at the floundering bird who could not fly.  And leaving me standing there going, "Why do I always have to be the responsible one?"  Darn.  
I ran back to my car to retrieve a beach towel.  Then I used the last dribble of my cell phones battery power to call Mark.  I begged him to tell me what to do.  He promised he would make some calls.  I told him I was going to pick the bird up and then my phone went dead.  On the way back to my car, with my seagull secured safely underneath the towel, I found a very kind man who allowed me to use his phone to call Mark back.  But Mark didn't answer because he did not recognize the phone number.  When I was in my car, driving away with the seagull on the seat next to me, the nice gentleman whose phone I had just borrowed came running across the parking lot to let me know that Mark was on the phone.  Mark told me where to take the seagull and I thanked the man and drove off.

After a long drive to the animal shelter which was closed and a stop at a Vet's office to beg for assistance, I was told that I would have to keep the bird overnight because the wildlife rescue was closed for the night.  Darn again!
I drove home after two hours of driving around with the seagull in my car, and placed a bathmat into our tub.  I placed the bird on the mat, left him wrapped in the towel to stay warm and closed the shower doors.  
Periodically, I went back in to check on him and he seemed to be resting comfortably.  I resigned myself to the idea that I would be spending the night monitoring a seagull.  Luckily, Mark was able to get in touch with an animal control officer who was on call.  He told Mark that if I could drop the seagull off at his home, he would take care of it for the night and then bring it to the wildlife rescue organization in the morning.  I was very relieved!
I scooped Speckle(that is what I named him) up out of the tub and decided that we needed a photo to remember each other by.  Here we are saying goodbye to one another before getting back into the car.  

When the animal control officer looked at him, he told me that he was probably suffering from malnutrition which is extremely common around this time of year.  He showed me how to check for malnutrition and then told me that he would feed the seagull and then bring him in in the morning.  He said that the bird would be treated with antibiotics, fed and nursed back to strength and then released back into the wild.  Thank God for kind-hearted people like him!
It is amazing to me how incredibly trusting this seagull became after he understood that I was not out to eat him.  He sat quietly for the two hours in my car and allowed me to handle him without biting.  I know it sounds funny, but this bird and I developed a connection.  A spiritual understanding in which we communicated to one another that we were going to trust each other for the time being.
When I walk along the shoreline now, I sometimes wonder if one of the flock members that I encounter is one of the birds that Mark and I have rescued from certain death.  I view seagulls in a very different light now.  To me, they are no longer just scavenger birds looking for a free handout.(Although I am a realist and I understand that eating equals survival.)  They are companions along the journey, sometimes just doing what birds do and sometimes, offering up a test for the both of us.  Will I stop to do what is right and humane and just, or will I barely look up leaving the wounded, frightened animal to fend for itself?

When I think about this experience, I must give myself credit for bravery and action.  It is easy to walk away from a situation that we think we are ill-equipped to handle before we even try to reason things through.  Sometimes, I am braver about things than I have the right to be, however this is a quality that I have inherited from my Father.  To be there for others.  To act first and reason later.  To be the one not to walk away.

I announced that I will be giving away an Energy Muse Bracelet this week in my last post.  In order to enter this gratitude giveaway, all you need to do is to tell me about a positive quality which you possess.  Give yourself credit.  What do you appreciate about yourself?

I will randomly choose the winner of this lovely bracelet on Thursday evening(PST) and all entries will be accepted up until 5 pm on Thursday, March 19, 2009.

*Entries for this giveaway are closed.  Thank you so much for entering and best of luck!  You are all wonderful!  I WILL ANNOUNCE THE WINNER BY SATURDAY, MARCH 21.

May the luck of the Irish be with you!


Jenn-n-n said...

I am very intuitive, empathetic and compassionate(I believe within myself these qualities are "one" as they work in unison) when it comes to the feelings of others.

A few years back I had a position with a private ambulance company and one of the duties we had to perform were what are called "First Removals", meaning when someone passed away we would pick them up and take them to the funeral home.

I had a partner who was slightly developmentally challenged, he and I were called to a home on the remote part of the Island to pick up a deceased gentleman.

We arrived and fought to get the stretcher upstairs to the master bedroom where a hospital bed had been set up. The wife of the man was clearly distraught and rightfully so, but as I talked to her I could see there was more to it. So I sent my partner out to have a "break" and told him I'd call him when I needed him. I put my arm around the lady and sat her on the edge of their marital bed so that we were looking at her husband. I kept my arm around her and held her free hand in mine, I said to her, "Why don't you tell me about him?"

She proceeded to tell me all about her husband, the kind of man he was, the plans they had made for their future that would not be realized; how he had been diagnosed with cancer and was dead within 5 months. At the end of our 30 minute conversation she was comfortable with our taking him. All she needed to know was that we cared. I reassured her that I would treat her husband in the manner I wanted my Mother (who was dying of cancer at the time) to be treated.

I've always been able to intuite when people are having a hard time, no matter how deeply they hide it. It's one of my greatest qualities, and one that I value highly. I am blessed to have been granted this ability. I have been rewarded on an emotional level often because of it.

Thanks Debra forallowing this moment to remember!

Jenn-n-n said...

Oh and Debra... Kudos to you for CARING!!! Too few people do anymore!!!!!

Also, I can combine the qualities I listed into one... the ability to accurately read others.

Laura ~Peach~ said...

Love speckles picture and hope he is out and about and remembers you.

I am too empathetic (according to my professors in school) and too giving (according to my DH) because if I think that something/one is hungry I will feed them, If they are cold I will clothe them, If they are crying I will cry with them and way too many times I have given my bill moneys to help someone else.
but That is just who I am and I like me that way :)

HUGS Laura

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

First of all, it doesn't surprise me in the least that you would help those that need helping. Be it 2 legged or 4, skin covered or laden with feathers. You are just one of "those" people. And I love you for that.

Postive quality?
I guess I not only listen but I really HEAR. And I love with every fiber of my being. I really do.


Kathleen Botsford said...

I love your story! My husband thinks I am crazy when I coddle and nurse the birds that fly into our windows back to health. It makes me feel so connected to the larger scheme of things.

WVLeAnn said...

Debra, you're an Angel saving that birds life! I would have done the same thing. The poor creature may not have had another chance to enjoy this world if you hadn't come along. Thank you! I love the pictures posted and saved the first picture as my computer background so I can envy you being on the beach and me in these mountains, trade ya, LOL!!!! Take care of yourself, WVLeAnn

jojo said...

A generous spirit. I love it my time, my energy, my thoughts and prayers or something tangible. I can be off walking the beach or the woods, walking the streets of our small town windowshopping, any where really, and see something that reminds me of someone I hold dear and I will have to get it for them. No reason at all just that they came to mind today. I love to give to my children, my husband, my family, my friends, to anyone in need of compassion and companionship...understanding. I am a hand reaching out to you...with a loving, generous spirit and a gentle soul.

Maria-Thérèse said...

Wow, those seagulls - so many of them, such beautiful photos! Glad you helped one of them.

What I like about me is my determination. I never give up when there's something I really, truly want to do.

Jacque said...

Debra, what a great post, I had to wipe the tears from my cheeks, my tears were in honor of your big heart and for the many creatures I and my family have cared for and connected with. I grew up in a family that rehabilitated wildlife, and yes a seagull who was tangled badly in fishline was one of them. I loved your comment about their eyes, so true. I enjoy your words every time I read your post, you touch very close to my own soul. My strength about myself that I am most aware of is my respect for all life, I was taught to look at all that is around us as a wonderful gift and I do that always.

Debbie said...

You are wonderful to rescue those birds. And seagulls remind me of when my oldest were young and we lived near the beach. My sweet son thought the birds were waving at him as they flew and flapped their wings. He just about wore his little arms out waving back.
A positive quality? I am present with my children. I will stop anything and everything to talk to them or play with them. I think that is a positive quality. It has been to me, at least. The value of the time I have spent with them is priceless to me.

Catherine Holman said...

What a great story! You have such a nuturing heart!

As for me, I'm a good listener, but that wouldn't help me with a bird now would it!

jenX67 said...

I missed the deadline, but i'm certain this is an important exercise for me, and I'm sure I was led here right now, at this time. It is 1258 a.m. in Oklahoma, or 1058 in California. I couldn't sleep, so I got up. This is hard for me to answer, which is something to ponder. In the meantime, I appreciate that I had the good sense to start following your blog. =)

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