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The Caught Bird ~ A Note from Katy

By Katy Agro Myers

Last Friday, Rob and I were both working from home and we headed upstairs to take a look at the work our contractors were doing. On the way out, I just happened to look out the front window. I saw the shadow of a bird on the big tree. It seemed to be hovering, but I thought that was odd since it's a little too early for hummingbirds. So I went to the window to investigate. I was shocked.

You see, last summer, my kids discovered their continued love for fishing, but would often practice casting in the front yard. One particular lure got caught and it's been stuck in the tree ever since. Sparkling in the sun, swinging in the wind. It often made me smile when the reflection glistened on days the boys are in school. Yep-you know where this is headed, right?

The bird that I saw was stuck on the fishing hook. Hanging and flapping trying to get loose. I yelled to Rob and we both ran outside. My first thought was how do I save this thing! My second was how to stop it from suffering and how to not have a dead bird hanging from the tree when my kids came home from school.

I called animal control who referred us to the wildlife info line. They gave us the number of a bird rescue, Owl Moon Raptor Center. While we waited to see if someone could come out, my husband got out a ladder and a pole saw and started trying to cut the bird down. But we had some problems: He's afraid of heights. I'm afraid of birds. So how exactly do we rescue a bird stuck on a branch 40ft up in our tree?

With a bada$$ lady named Nancy.

Nancy from Owl Moon Raptor Center arrived ready to go. She immediately identified the bird as a woodpecker and got to work. She knew we needed a bigger ladder and luckily our contractor had one on his truck. She was up on the truck helping to unload the ladder immediately. Rob explained he was afraid of heights and she said "I've got it!" and up she went to the top of the ladder. We passed up the electric pole saw. She got about 30 seconds into cutting and the battery died. 😑

I called a neighbor with a manual pole saw and she came right over to help. Adrenaline was pumping, Rob was holding a net in the air by this time to give the bird a rest but his arms were getting tired. He asked me to switch with him - but you guys, I couldn't. I tried to tell myself that I needed to help rescue this bird, but every time I went near it, I was TERRIFIED. I kept telling myself how irrational it was - and in the meantime, Rob was yelling at me because his arms were shaking he was so tired! We had been at this for like a half-hour by now. But nope, I couldn't do it.

Nancy climbed up a few more rungs. She sawed through the branch until she was almost there and then chopped. The plan was for Rob to catch the bird and lower it down. It didn't happen that day. The limb fell, the line yanked the bird OUT OF THE NET. And the poor bird slammed to the ground with an audible thump. He was stunned. But not dead!

Nancy and Rob worked to remove the fishing line from the tree while I got a box and some towels and we packed the bird up for an hour+ voyage to Phoenix Wildlife Center. Nancy was brutally honest with us. This bird had been hanging on this hook for over an hour. He was injured, stressed, and likely wouldn't survive, but she took him anyway.

Later that evening I got a text from Kathy at Pheonix Wildlife Center who let me know that the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker would in fact be fine. They removed THREE hooks from his wing, gave him antibiotics, and pain meds and he would be released. Due to weather, they kept him until Sunday, but I got a text Sunday morning that he was successfully released.

I'm so thankful for Nancy who showed up. She was brave and yet so compassionate to us and the bird. She helped us without judgment (because who lets their kids "fish" in the front yard?) I'm thankful to our neighbor, Lynn, who stopped what she was doing to bring us that tool and assist. Above all, I'm thankful for that flighty and feisty bird that was tough enough to hang in there while we tried to rescue him. A true story of resilience. A sign of hope for spring.

I hope that you are feeling hopeful today!



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