This little adventure came about many moons ago-soon after losing my wife Jodi.
We would visit a small park, known as Castaway Point, with a beautiful dock that juts out into the peaceful limpid Indian River Lagoon, rife with dolphins, herons, cranes and other exotic fauna.
That night was very wild and exceedingly windy-a glorious evening. And like those who help those affected by tornadoes or hurricanes and other disasters, we got to help a storm victim ourselves.
I was rumbling along the wooden boardwalk when I sighted the forlorn creature. Strange, he was right next to the boardwalk and not flying away as I trundled forth. A set of black-rimmed eyes set in a comical black-topped head with a brilliant orange bill stared up at me. A sleek bluish-white feathered body rounded out the rest of him.
I bent down and he moved away. Then I saw why he stayed grounded-his wing was twisted at a terrible angle and never moved. He had been on the wing and a giant gust must have caught him and dashed him against a pole or wire up on high.
I called Babs over. She was distraught over the bird’s condition and of course we had to help him.
We had a blanket in the car and, after a dance as the bird evaded us, we finally were able to carefully scoop him up into the gentle swath of cloth. Babs held him in her lap the drive home and we deposited him into a kitty carrier (we have many for our multitude of felines).
Now what?! We didn’t even know what type of bird he was, some kind of seabird tern was all we could distinguish.
A field-guide and the Net provided the answer-a 24 hour number to call for local wildlife in distress. A man gave us the number of a woman who could help, as the hour was very late.
A cheerful voice answered the phone and we described the bird and his condition. “I agree, I think you have a Royal Tern, there,” she said. “Bring him over and I will take him.”
Off we went and found her house, well after midnight. She bounded out and peered at our feathered friend. “A Royal Tern, all right.” She gently eased him out and took him into her house, filled with other birds! He was in good hands, she assured us and will be treated for his broken wing.
It was a grand thing and helped us forget our personal pain for a little while to help one of our fellow inhabitants of this Floridian paradise in his great time of need.
Photography by Autumn Jade