15 minutes before closing on 18 March the phone rang at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center. A young gull with a fish hook through his beak was begging for food at the Lighthouse Grill in Trinidad, about 15 miles north of Arcata.
When we arrived on the scene, we found exactly what the caller had described. With a little bit of patience and a little bit of available bait (by the way, the french fries from the Lighthouse Grill looked very good – hopefully we’ll get back for more when on less pressing business!) and with the appreciated assistance of the folks who made the initial call, we were able to net the young Glaucous-winged gull. We returned to the clinic and removed the nasty hook. There is no more rewarding work than succussfully removing a hook from a wild animal. (update: local ornithologist Rob Fowler has observed (see comment below) that this bird is most likely a Glaucous-winged x Western hybrid, so here’s a link to Western gulls too!)
The gull is in care now, treated with pain medication and offered healthy hook-free fish! The bird has an excellent prognosis.
Thanks to Julie and friend who made the call and stayed to help, to the onlookers who watched from a safe distance, to the older gull whose competition for the french fries made our soon-to-be-patient less wary of our net, and to everyone who supports our work and makes it possible for us to go on these rescues and provide the necessary care!
To learn more about fishing line and how it effects local wildlife check out this story from a month ago. All pictures Laura Corsiglia/Bird Ally X