Phalarope Beats the Odds!

A week ago, a young woman attending Humboldt State University found a small bird struggling in the middle of the street where she lives. As a wildlife student, she recognized the bird as a Phalarope, a sandpiper-like bird, smaller than a Robin but larger than most Sparrows.  She also knew that the bird was in trouble.

Once admitted for care, we identified the bird as a Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius). From a distance distinguishing between the different species of Phalarope when they aren’t in breeding plumage can be tricky, but we’ve sadly gotten a lot of recent “in the hand” opportunities to identify these birds. This is the eighth Red Phalarope we’ve admitted this month.

This patient was thin and weak and also had a deep laceration on the underside of her right wing. Fortunately for her, she also had a ferocious appetite and a strong desire to get on with her business. Within 5 days she’d completed her course of anti-biotics, within 6 days her laceration had healed well enough that we knew it wouldn’t be a problem for her and within 7 days she’d regained her missing body mass. We released her this morning back to Humboldt Bay, in the same locattion one of our staff had seen Red Phalaropes successfully foraging the previous day.

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The women who brought this bird in to our clinic were very grateful that we were here –  grateful that there is some place to take an injured wild animal. People who find injured wild animals often express this relief that we are here – they often say they don’t know what else they would have done, just that they couldn’t let the injured victim of our human-built world suffer. Often they have no money – and they’re relieved again that we don’t charge them for taking the animal into care. Frankly, it feels great to be thanked for the work we do – to know that being here is making the world a little better. And that’s why we ask for your support each time.

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Thank you for making wildlife rescue in Humboldt County a reality! Thank you for making all of our work possible. When people thank us for being here, they’re thanking you!
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All photos: Laura Corsiglia / Bird Ally X