An entangled bird with no chance to free itself
August 6, 2020 — Through their own wiles, the birds nesting at Milford Point survived the July high tides — when the waters rose, the Piping Plovers moved their eggs and an American Oystercatcher sat on hers until the danger passed.
But when one of the surviving oystercatcher chicks got itself tangled up in something a couple of weeks ago, there was no chance it would free itself.
Connecticut Audubon Executive Director Patrick Comins saw it first.
Not sure what it was, he took photographs from afar and scrutinized them later: Fishing line. Or netting. Monofilament, probably. The kind that lasts essentially forever.
Kat knows all the birds
Patrick told Katerina Gillis, Connecticut Audubon’s coastal ranger. Kat has been patrolling the beach and sandbars since spring. She knows every nest, egg, and bird out there.
The next morning — Thursday, July 23 — she found the young oystercatcher. A piece of netting was caught on its head.
Staff — Patrick, Kat, Connecticut Audubon’s Stefan Martin, and Audubon Connecticut’s Beth Amendola — working under the auspices of the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds moved into rescue mode.
They used a special trap to safely corral two recently-hatched oystercatchers. They disentangled one and put identification bands on its leg and on the leg of its sibling — the two birds that hatched from the eggs protected from the high tide by their mother.
In 30 minutes they were done: two American Oystercatchers banded for research purposes, one American Oystercatcher rescued from likely strangulation.
“Both chicks took their (presumed) first flights yesterday,” Patrick said recently. “They were playing in the wind, stretching out their wings, and got about five-feet high, with the longest flight of about 20 feet.”
Good luck, young birds! — Tom Andersen
Thank you to the Long Island Sound Futures Fund for supporting this shorebird protection work.