Great Blue Herons, now and then…

Great Blue Heron 13-1701 from SF Bay Center release.
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

This week, both of our California centers have cared for several Great Blue Herons, the largest and most majestic of the heron species we see at International Bird Rescue. The heron you see above is one of our more recent patients and was successfully released just a few days ago at Suisun Marsh, not far from our San Francisco Bay center.

In rehabilitation, Great Blue Herons are easily stressed and dangerous to handle. Their powerful beaks can literally kill a human, and their bones are fragile in a captive environment, where these birds might crash into a wall or branch if spooked. Nevertheless, Great Blue Herons are a privilege to care for, and we want to share a story of one of these amazing birds that came to us twice with a similar problem.

From the archives:

On July 23, 1996, a Great Blue Heron, tangled in fishing line with fishing hooks embedded in its wing, was GB_Heron_second_time-2008captured and brought to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, Calif. The young hatching bird was stabilized and treated for puncture wounds from hooks, and abrasions from line entanglement.

The following day, this heron was brought to International Bird Rescue’s old aquatic bird rehabilitation facility in Berkeley. The bird was put on a regimen of antibiotics and treated for its wounds. Its recovery was quick: On July 29, the bird was banded with a small metal federal leg band (#0977-04747) and released in the Suisun Marsh.

Twelve years later, on May 28, 2008, the same Great Blue Heron, now an adult but still wearing band number #0977-04747, was again found entangled in fishing line and fish hooks and was captured at a marina in Oakley, Calif. The bird was brought to Lindsay Wildlife Museum, which again did an excellent job of stabilizing it and removing the fish hooks and line that were tangled around the heron’s wing and leg.

This heron was then transferred to International Bird Rescue’s new facility in Fairfield, Calif. As before, it was treated for its wounds, held for a week or so, and on June 5, 2008, the bird was released healthy and strong back into the Suisun Marsh.

California has a number of prestigious wildlife rehabilitation organizations open 365 days a year to provide shelter and state-of-the-art care for sick and injured native wildlife. Lindsay Wildlife Museum and International Bird Rescue are two of those organizations and are both leaders in the unique field of wildlife rehabilitation. We have worked in tandem for years to provide the best care for local wildlife.

While International Bird Rescue specializes in aquatic bird rehabilitation, Lindsay Wildlife Museum specializes in many other species of native wildlife, including raptors, passerines, terrestrial mammals and reptiles. When we receive an owl or the occasional mammal for care, our team sends these animals to Lindsay for rehabilitation. In turn, they send us the aquatic birds that can benefit from our program and specialized facility.

Together, we have helped hundreds of animals by cooperating with each other and putting the needs of the animals first. Great Blue Heron #0977-04747 is a testament to this important relationship and the dedication of these two organizations.

Further reading:

Lindsay Wildlife Museum