Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Woodcock Encounter in Manhattan

American Woodcock Scolopax minor
By guizmo_68 [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
American Woodcock in a happier environment.

Well, I had a different sort of night on Friday. I worked late wrapping up one of the 7 licensor forecasts that are due next week and was finally on my way home when I found an exhausted woodcock hunkered down in the middle of the sidewalk on Broadway near Canal Street. I watched it for a while and it didn't budge as people walked by. I didn't want to just leave it there, somebody was eventually going to kick the poor thing. I didn't have a towel but I had a plastic bag which I wrapped very loosely around its body, leaving its head sticking out, and then I just picked it up.

My first thought had been to walk it over to the Hudson River Park and find it a safer-looking spot in the plantings for it to spend the night, but when it just let me pick it up without any objections at all, settling down in the crook of my arm like a tame pet chicken, I got to thinking maybe I should take it to one of those 24-hour emergency vets and see if they could help it. I haven't got a smartphone but I stopped a couple of young ladies who were passing by and they kindly looked up a vet. The nearest one was at 15th street and 5th avenue, so me and the bird got in a cab and went there.

Unfortunately they only take dogs and cats there (she said the only thing they would do with a bird there was euthanize it if it was badly injured, and my little bird didn't have anything obviously wrong with it except for maybe being exhausted). The receptionist was able to give me the name of a 24 hour vet that did take birds up at 62nd street, and also the name of a wild bird rescue that would open at 8 am. Only hitch is that TQ and I had a family gathering in CT in the morning and we were supposed to be up there at 10. I tried to call him to see what he would think of me skipping the gathering and take care of the bird, maybe taking the train up once I'd gotten the bird squared away (his family is all fond of animals so I think that would have been ok), but he must have turned the ringer off to sleep, so no dice.

So I left the vet and stopped outside trying to decide whether I wanted to try taking the bird up to 62nd street, or take it home and explain the situation to TQ in the morning, or possibly go back to Plan A and take it to the Hudson River Park and try to find a safe spot in the plantings to tuck it in for the night, leaving it there and hoping for the best.

Now, as I'd been carrying it around, it had seemed like it was perking up a little bit, opening its eyes more (lovely dark eyes), picking up its head, and beginning to move a little bit more. I'd been holding it very gently and it really hadn't been trying to get away through any of this. Well, as I was standing there trying to decide what to do the bird took matters into its own hands, suddenly gave a much more energetic wiggle and then jumped right out of my arms and flew away!

I wish I'd been able to get it to a park but maybe warming it up helped. I hope it was able to find someplace better than the middle of a sidewalk to spend the rest of the night.

BTW I originally posted this on Facebook and specifically shared it with a couple of friends who know a lot more than I do about birds. One of them I would have called for advice before I even picked up the bird except that I lost my cell phone earlier this year and haven't re-built my contact list yet. They agreed that the bird I found had probably flown into a window and stunned itself - this is a big hazard for birds in NYC, and keeping it warm and safe while it recovered turns out to have been the right thing to do. The first to give advice also recommended the Wild Bird Fund (same place as the receptionist at the vet had recommended) as the very best place to take a bird in need of help - click here for a success story involving a woodcock found much the same way I found mine, only a little more banged up so in clearer need of help). She also mentioned that the best way to transport an injured wild bird is in a paper bag, she said they stay calmer that way, which makes a lot of sense. Good to have knowledgeable friends - thanks all!


my2fish said...

bonnie, I'm glad you were able to help the bird recover! I have occasionally had a woodcock scare me as it flew away from me as I walk along my driveway! I've never gotten close enough to touch one though.

Beth Havey said...

Sharing with my son-in-law who is an ornithologist.

bonnie said...

I wish I'd gotten it to a park but it was at least looking a lot perkier when we parted company. One of my birder friends on FB explained that the low-altitude escape flight is a contributor to them running into windows when they mistake a reflection for something they can fly through.

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

It sounds reasonable that it was stunned. Poor thing. I've never actually seen a woodcock. But I love birds! Going to that site you mentioned to check things out . . .

Laurie Stone said...

What a great story. How nice of you to care for this little creature. Most people wouldn't have done that.

bonnie said...

Actually as I was looking up info for this post, I ran across a really nice Audobon article about the Wild Bird Fund folks saying that in 2016 they treated almost 5,000 birds. Must be more people looking out for the birds than you might think!

Although I was surprised by how many people were just walking by and not even looking, even when I was kneeling on the sidewalk next to it wondering what I should do. In fact the first person I asked for help with a smartphone just blew on by without even looking at me - of course asking for help of that sort is a pretty common gambit for cell-phone thieves so I can't entirely blame him. Glad the young ladies were friendlier.

bonnie said...

Oh, I meant to link to the article -

click here for that

Jeff K said...

Bonnie, you really went all out for this poor bird. NYC Audubon has a group of Injured Bird Transporters (all volunteers) who are notified when Audubon gets calls about injured birds. We get a brief training session (yes, paper bags are what to use, keeps them dark and quiet) and bring 'em on to the Wild Bird Fund (they close at 8 PM, BTW). The woodcocks started showing up a couple of weeks ago and some days they get half a dozen or more. Their odd facial design makes them particularly vulnerable to window strikes.

So if you find an injured bird (better to keep away from the really large ones and raptors) you can contact NYC Audubon at 212-691-7483 or check out http://www.nycaudubon.org/finding-a-young-or-injured-bird for more information about hands-on help.

Bonnie, it doesn't surprise me that you went right into help mode when you found that bird. I generally carry around a supply of small paper bags, for bird rescues and coyote scat collection (but that's another story...) and I fully realize I'm turning into some kind of a nut. Ain't retirement grand?!

LauraEhlers said...

What a sweet little bird. He was in good hands!

Water Geek said...

What a great find. Right place, right time!