“Something had taken a chunk of feathers out of it,” said Mr. Roskopf. “It looked like maybe a cat or raccoon had gotten a hold of it. When we called the Boca Grande Club and asked about wildlife services in the area, they referred us to the Peace River Wildlife Center.”
Roskopf called the center and was greatly impressed by the helpfulness of the staff. They sent out a call to the local team of Blanche and Jacques Boudreau, who volunteer their time to rescue area wildlife.
When the Boudreaus got the call about an injured bird near Shore Lane the timing was ... well, it was not the best. That day, the truck that the couple keep their animal capture gear in was out of operation, so they had to work with what was on hand. The bird, a young female cormorant, was missing flight and tail feathers. But that did not slow her down much.
“Even though she was missing the flight feathers, she could still do a long, low glide,” said Blanche. “Our biggest job was to keep her from getting into the water, because once cormorants get into the water, they are like fish.”
After an earlier encounter with the hooked beak of a cormorant led to an infected thumb and almost to surgery, Blanche was trying to herd the bird while staying safe.
“I was running along, staying between her and the water,” she described. “Since we didn’t have our nets, when I finally got into position, I tossed one of our Loose Caboose sweatshirts over her. She was young, and other than the obvious issues, she was in good shape. This was not one of the easiest catches I’ve had.”
The cormorant was bundled up and taken to the Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda.
Kelly Grutto took over once the bird reached the center. She cleaned and examined the bird, then began treatment.
Grutto, a veterinary nurse, gave a happy report this week.
“The cormorant had been attacked, and lost a lot of flight and tail feathers, and there was also a small injury just above her tail,” she said. “We cleaned her up and gave her a round of antibiotics, and she is eating well on her own.”
In fact, the bird is swimming and happy at her temporary home, which Roskopf was happy to hear.
“They have called me twice to keep me updated on the condition of “my” bird, and they deserve so much appreciation,” he said.
The updates have been entirely positive.
“We will be keeping her until her feathers grow back and she can fly,” explained Grutto. “The enclosure she is in now has several other cormorants and pelicans, so she is with other birds.”
When asked about release, Grutto said that it is the goal of the center.
“Once her flight feathers grow back, we will take her back to where she was found and release her,” she said. “That is, if she doesn’t release herself first. She is being kept in an enclosure that she could fly out of easily when she is ready. The birds spend the day out there, then we bring them in at night to protect them from predators.”
It is entirely possible that the bird will simply take off for home one day.
“As long as it is to drive from that side of the harbor to Punta Gorda, it’s not a very long trip if you have wings,” laughed Grutto.
Thanks to the dedicated wildlife volunteers around Charlotte Harbor, it is a trip that she will have a chance to make.
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