We Fixed A Bird

This is only one of the many posts relating to our Death Valley adventure. If you would like to see more of what we did on that trip please visit our main Death Valley page.

While hanging out inside the Geologists’ Cabin one day I noticed a small black bird that kept walking through the open door of the cabin to hop up on the edge of Willow’s bowls. It was a brave little thing as Willow was laying on her pad all of two or three feet away.

bird on Willow's bowl
The Bird Being Brave

Willow’s kibble was too big for it to swallow but it tried several times. The water was easier and it took numerous sips out of her water bowl over an hour or so of in and out visits. With a nice spring all of 25 yards away down the hill from the cabin it didn’t need the water but maybe it found the cool, burro-poop-free, Brita-filtered water a nice change of pace.

When it was walking around it had an obvious limp and we could see that one foot was noticeably larger than the other. It was hard to see details what with the light streaming in the door and backlighting the bird and trying to get a closer look just caused it to fly away.

After a bit we went outside to read and relax under our awning in the front of the cabin and forgot all about the bird. Imagine our surprise when we came back to the door and startled it in the process of filching another drink from Willow’s bowl. Since we were between the door and escape it flew towards the window. It luckily didn’t smack into the glass but instead got itself a bit tangled in the thin curtains we had pulled across the window to keep out the worst of the mid-day sun. Not wanting it to hurt itself I immediately went across the room to grab it and help it out.

Bird in Hand

It, obviously, was not too thrilled about this new situation and gave out a few chirps of annoyance and alarm and gave me a couple of bites to show he was serious about his (or her) attitude. Luckily its beak seemed to be designed for bug eating and not seed crushing or else those bites might have been painful and damaging.

Once we had him firmly but gently in hand I took a look at his foot to see what was the issue. It was obvious that some sort of thin fiber or twine had gotten wrapped around its foot and then a burr had become entangled as well so it essentially had this ball of string and sharp spiky things attached to its foot and cutting into its skin. It seemed to be man-made fiber and so was not just going to degrade and fall off over time

tangle of twine and burr anround the bird's foot
The Tangle
Another View of the tangle on the bird's foot
Another View Of The Mess

You could tell it had been on there a while as it had embedded itself into its skin. Carefully keeping a nice grip so it could not struggle too much I quickly went and got my little Swiss Army Knife with the tiny scissors and a pair of tweezers and set about removing the mass from its foot.

To get to all the little nooks and crannies between its toes I had to turn it several times to get at it from different angles and it was none too pleased about that but was still more calm and quiet than I would have expected. Layer by layer, strand by strand I was able to cut, pull, unwind and remove the tangle.

some of the twine I cut off the bird's foot
Making Progress

After a few minutes we finally got it all off and had a pile of material that did not belong wrapped around a bird’s foot.

The Tools we used to remove the Tangle
The Tools and the Tangle

You could see the deformation the tangle had caused. At one point it had obviously cut into his foot, caused bleeding, oozing and swelling and then had crusted over. Yuuum.

close-up of His deformed Foot After Removing the Tangle
His Deformed Foot After Removing The Tangle

Seeing that we did not cause any new bleeding I walked him outside, opened my hand and he flew away.

I would love to be able to report that he was a grateful little bird and came back later to thank me for my services but that did not happen. I’m pretty sure that the whole experience was his version of an E-Ticket Ride on the Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach & Boardwalk and he was a weeny who would rather ride in the spinning teacups.

Glad we could help.


3 thoughts on “We Fixed A Bird

  1. Upriverdavid

    I don’t you’ll ever have to worry about bird-poo on your truck…
    The word will get out….

    1. E

      We can only hope. At least the Tacoma is mostly white and bird poop kind of blends 😉

  2. Nathan

    Great job Eric, glad you were able to help this little guy (or gal) out!

    This is Nathan, we met at the Geologist cabin and then again in Saline. It was great to meet you and Willow, and I hope the rest of your adventure is fantastic. Send me an email address when you have a moment and I’ll send you a link to some past time lapse I’ve done. I haven’t had a chance to start processing the current trip yet, and it will take a while – I came back with a terabyte of images. Yikes…

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