Patients of the week: two Great Blue Herons, two human-caused injuries seen all too often

Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Great Blue Herons are among the most majestic of aquatic birds, with their S-curved necks in flight, graceful stature andGHBE lightning-quick reflexes as they hunt for prey at water’s edge.

Though this species has been protected by federal law for nearly a century, our wildlife teams regularly care for herons injured by human causes — some incidental, others deliberate. Today, International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center is caring for herons affected by both.

The Great Blue Heron you see above was rescued by our friends at Wildlife Emergency Services after it was found crouched in the backyard of a Hollister, CA home. Caregivers at SPCA for Monterey County Wildlife Center took X-rays of the heron and found that it had been shot. The bird has since been transferred to us, and is recovering from a fractured wing in addition to the gunshot wounds.

Wildlife Emergency Services has secured a reward of $5,050 in this case; anonymous tipsters with information leading to the arrest and conviction IMG_1375-Lof the person or persons responsible can call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife CalTip line at 888-334-2258 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 650-876-9078.

Great Blue Herons are known to sometimes hunt for fish in backyard ponds. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers a simple solution for homeowners and their koi fish: Put a length of drain pipe in the pond for the fish to hide from wading birds seeking a quick meal.

Our second Great Blue Heron (right) at International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center has a more common affliction: injuries due to fishing line entanglement. Both of these birds are being housed in outdoor heron aviaries with privacy screening to limit visual contact (Great Blues can be high-stress birds in captivity).

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