When Antje Springman and Dennis Minty noticed one thing huddled below the honeysuckle shrub outdoors their dwelling alongside a river financial institution in Conception Bay North, they thought it was one in every of their chickens in misery.
Springman went out to analyze and found a really completely different sort of chicken — a Nice Cormorant, a black seabird in regards to the measurement of a goose, generally known as a shag in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“It has a very long neck and about a three-foot wingspan and a very long five-inch bill with a pretty sharp hook on the end, so I called out to Dennis to go and get me some welder’s gloves,” mentioned Springman.
Cormorants are normally noticed on sea stacks or rocks on the shoreline, which is about one kilometre from the couple’s dwelling in South River.
‘We gave him a superb feed that evening and put him in an animal service.’ – Antje Springman
Whereas they’ve seen the birds flying by or resting on the tidal estuary outdoors their home, they’ve by no means encountered one on the property.
“It was in a place that is not normal, the behaviour of that bird wasn’t normal and I knew it was in trouble.”
The chicken hissed and snapped, however did not transfer when Springman approached, so she picked him up and introduced him inside.
Minty — a wildlife biologist skilled in treating and rehabilitating animals throughout his 23 years with Salmonier Nature Park — mentioned the chicken was fairly skinny, however had no obvious accidents.
“We figured a bit of food and some quiet and warmth for the night was the ticket,” he mentioned.
‘We gave it a superb feed’
Cormorants are fish-eating birds, so the couple thawed out a tilapia fillet within the microwave and minimize it into bite-sized items.
“I had to pry the jaws open and poke it down, but once it’s in the gullet they will swallow it, so we gave him a good feed that night and put him in an animal carrier and put him in a warm place in our front porch and covered him with a blanket and left him for the night,” mentioned Minty.
The meal and relaxation appeared to do the trick, because the seabird was much more energetic come morning.
“We actually didn’t think he was going to make it through the night, but in the morning when Den had a look the bird just started snapping and sticking his beak out through the grate, trying to get him as he was getting closer, so we knew that he was feeling quite a bit better,” mentioned Springman.
The household canine and cat stayed nicely away from the pungent customer, and by morning Springman mentioned the entire home smelled like fish.
For the reason that chicken seemed to be in good condition after its evening within the porch, they took it outdoors and gave it one other as soon as over and the final of the tilapia earlier than releasing it on the fringe of the river.
“And off it went, it seemed fine,” mentioned Minty.
It is not the primary time the couple has helped out a creature in want.
They captured an in poor health purple fox from the roadside locally and introduced it to Salmonier Nature Park for rehabilitation, and helped dozens of storm petrels that had been blown inshore throughout unhealthy climate.
“They’re about the size of a robin, so they were a lot easier to handle than this guy,” mentioned Springman.
“Sometimes we have people call us because they know we have experience,” she mentioned.
“We do dog rescue as well,” added Minty.
Do not do that at dwelling
Whereas Minty has the experience to assist wild animals in misery, he mentioned it is not one thing individuals with out the right expertise ought to try on their very own.
“They can be quite dangerous to people, so even if they are ill they’ll lash out, they’ll try to defend themselves, they don’t know that people are trying to provide aid,” he mentioned.
“The general rule of thumb, unless you know what you’re doing, is leave them alone.”
Minty mentioned one widespread rescue that individuals can do is for small birds that fly into window glass. If they are not critically injured, he mentioned they usually simply want a few hours in a heat, darkish area to get better.
“So that’s a good intervention, anyone can do that.”
Should you do encounter a wild animal in misery, contact the wildlife division of the provincial division of fisheries and land sources.