Gloucester, Massachusetts November
I sit here today with an empty space in my heart,
because I fell in love with a rat with wings. It started on a beautiful
day in mid July, There was a noisy seagull racket outside, I went
out and found a tiny, fuzzy, little seagull no more than a day or two old,
huddled next to some construction pipe.
This little baby must have been taken from it's
nest from another seagull and dropped here, all through the summer
the babies fall off the 60 ft building next to my work, most don't
survive and I had never seen one this small. I scooped him up and
mom came complaining and angry at me.
I knew I couldn't put the baby back on the
roof, I had tried with others, I and the babies were attacked by
the protective nesting gulls. I took the baby home and called everyone
I knew who had ever taken care of a baby bird and finally found a
nice a man who cared for and helped any seagulls he came across, he showed
me what to feed the baby and how to do it.
I was also told it was illegal to keep seagulls.
This was advice I ignored, thinking that no one would care what happened
to a gull, people hate them here in this tiny little fishing town
and I was helping the bird, right???
I always thought seagulls were amazing and beautiful,
and I enjoyed the tough guy, I'll steal what I want from you and
look you in the eye while I do it attitude of the gulls.
So this little baby came into my life, and I had
no idea how much he would educate and change me. My daughter named
Every day I would take him with me wherever
I went, I would feed him and clean him about 10 times a day, I could
have started my own recycling business with all the newspaper I went
thru and any conservationist would have been angry with all the laundry
On nice days I would take Sam outside and let him
walk around, my neighbors would hem and haw about how cute he was and
give him treats, passerby’s would stop and tell me their seagull
One man told me how he and the other guys at his
work at Gorton's used to enjoy watching the gulls drop clams on their
jerky bosses Mercedes , they took great joy in watching the temper
tantrum he would throw at the sight of the abuse his poor car was
Sam grew quickly, everyday with less fuzz and more
feathers, at the same time he became more outgoing, playful and funny.
He loved people, especially the kids, when they were sitting playing
games he had to be there, I think he liked the chatter of their little
Sam's favorite time was tubby time, he would sit
in the sink and eventually the bathtub flapping his wings, dunking
his head and wiggling his bum, tubby time happened at least 5-6 times
a day and he would happily play in the water for at least 45 minutes.
One day when we were hanging around outside Sam
flew, one day he couldn't fly, the next he could, It was time to
find Sam a place to go until he was stronger and ready to be released.
I live in a condo and didn't really want him flying
around my living room, I don't think I could have found enough paper
for that plus, YUK! I called the same nice man from the beginning
of Sam's story, he had a large fenced in pen with a koi pond where he
would keep injured gulls until he could get them to Tufts, he told
me Sam could stay as long as he needed to.
A day after dropping Sam off, the nice man called
me very concerned about Sam's behavior, something that didn't occur
to me was that seagulls imprint like other water fowl, ever seen
a duckling practically killing itself to follow his mom, that's undeniable
loyalty and love, or imprinting. Sam was imprinted on people.
A frightening thought, considering that people
hate, kick and shoot gulls here. I hit the computer, emailed and
called 50-60 so called professionals about what I should do. All the advice
was very conflicting and I just didn't know what to do. I wanted
Sam to be free, but I was afraid for him. I decided to at least give Sam
the chance to being a wild bird.
On a pretty sunny morning I brought him back to
my condo, I opened the window and let him out, he circled around
happily squawking a few times then flew towards the water and out of sight.
I kept food in the window thinking that he would come back when he
was hungry and maybe he wouldn't bother people.
I sat in that window all day yelling to every gull
I saw in hopes it was Sam, but he didn't come back, when it started
to get dark I broke down and cried hard, part with guilt, part with
fear and part with worry.
After a restless night, I drove to all the
beaches I could, but I couldn't find him, I reluctantly went to work,
In the early afternoon I got a call from the
nice man, Sam was there!! It took him a day and half, but he found
his way home. The nice man told me he heard children laughing outside,
and when he looked out, there was Sam with a group of children, that
until they realized he was friendly were throwing rocks at him.
We knew Sam may never be able to be released, someone
was going to hurt him. I checked around more on the computer, and after
being scolded countless times by wildlife rehabbers, I only had three
choices. I could take him to a rehabber where they could put him in
with other gulls, and maybe he would "wild up" and could
be released, BUT! If he couldn't be released he could be euthinized.
I could try to find someone who could teach with him, but there didn't
seem to be to many places interested in such a common bird. Or I
could keep him illegally until I did the work to become a wildlife
rehabber and get licensed to teach with him. To me the third choice
seemed like the best choice. The nice man and I were going to keep
him, we both loved him very much, not a day went by that I didn't
visit, every morning and sometimes in the afternoon. Sam was always
happy to see me, and he loved having visitor's, he would fly and
land on my head, play catch and chatter to me.
Quite a few people met Sam, he loved everyone, even
a few tough guy fishermen came to meet him, and thought he was the
sweetest thing, they now look differently at those pesky gulls.
One cold day a freak snowstorm blew thru and
Sam's net collapsed, he had to come back to the condo. I felt
awful keeping him in the bathroom, and I would let him out to walk
and fly around as much as I could, I'm so glad today I got to spend
those few days with him.
It became clear that us keeping Sam maybe wasn't
the best choice, and maybe we were being selfish. I went back to
the computer and called a man at a zoo who had shown some interest in Sam
after I had decided to keep him. He still wanted Sam, he could have
his own area, and maybe someday they would find him a mate. I knew
in my heart that it was best for Sam, and I needed to let go and
trust he could be taken care of better by someone else.
I had to go thru the legal channels to get
Sam to the zoo. The first thing I needed to do was hand him over
to a certified wildlife rehabber. So after speaking with them, and a promise
they would not euthinize him, I reluctantly let him go.
After a few days of sick worry, I went looking for
Sam, I had to see him, so I broke some rules and found him way back
in the woods, when I was caught, instead of getting angry with me,
the vets explained to me why I couldn't see him anymore. They thought
with time Sam may wild up if he was in with other gulls, and human
contact would be kept to a minimum .
The thought of Sam being free makes my heart
sing, it's what I always wanted for him, and if for some reason he
doesn't snap out of it, he can go to the zoo.
Whatever happens, my sweet Sam will survive, he
will grow and become a beautiful, majestic herring gull, not a rat
1 year later
After a long winter, an escape and a scary foot
infection, Samantha was released on a beautiful sunny spring day
on Cape Cod.
She, yes she (I had her DNA sexed )didn’t
even look at me, she flew around happily, and dropped into the water,
As I walked away and looked at her for the last
time I had found a purpose in my life.
I’m going to help orphaned and injured wild
creatures and just this spring, summer, and fall, I’ve
helped over 160, lots of baby songbirds, squirrels, cottontails,
hawks, mourning doves, fisher cats, turkeys, rare shore birds and
of course , lots and lots of seagulls.
I can only do this work with the help of the New
England Wildlife Center, Tufts wildlife Clinic, the nice man, my
mentor the awesome Miss Grace, and a slew of other folks and the patience
of my great guy and daughter.
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Your Help Is Greatly Appreciated!
CAPE ANN WILD BIRD RESCUE is in need of the following items:
• Dry kitten or puppy kibble
• Wild blueberries frozen or not
• Redworms (red wigglers) for the robins (not the kind from outside they
can have parasites that cause gape worm in young birds)
• Frozen corn and peas
• Laundry soap, dish (washer and regular) soap and bleach
• Paper towels and kleenex
• Bird seed, a variety for different species
• 1/2 inch harware cloth 4 feet wide
• untreated plywood and lumber
• galvanized screws
• fiberglass screen 4 feet wide
• reptariums, bigger the better
• gift certificates to grocery stores, chris's squirrels and more, and
spa's for when the baby season ends and i'm done with all this