CAMDEN — At the beginning of October, Betty McBrien, a professional cleaner at Lyman-Morse, noticed a herring gull in Camden hanging around the boat yard, looking for food. “I first noticed him walking around begging for food, but I didn’t know if he could take off and fly. He’d been hanging around so long, some of the guys at the boat yard started calling him ‘George.’ It was getting cold out at night and I didn’t want to see him die.”
McBrien called Avian Haven, a rehabilitation center in Freedom dedicated to the return of injured and orphaned wild birds to the wild. George the gull had already been on their radar from other calls they’d received from people in Camden. On Oct. 17, one of their volunteer staff members, Selkie O’Mira, met McBrien at the boat yard to investigate.
According to Avian Haven’s Facebook summary of events:
“Selkie met Betty at the boatyard and they found George huddled on some rocks up against the seawall, alone. Betty tried to lure the bird close enough to capture, but he flew off. Out across the harbor he went, landing somewhat clumsily on some rocks on the other side.”
The first mystery was solved; he could fly, just not well. “Later that day, Selkie and her husband, Abe, went out again and found the gull in the same location on the other side of the harbor, where he had apparently spent the day. They drove around, climbed down on the rocks, fish in one hand, net in the other, and the gull was soon settled comfortably in a carrier, en route to Avian Haven. The gull had parasites, which we treated. He was also unsteady on his feet and had a deep laceration on his beak. It's an old injury, but George is in remarkably good shape, apparently surviving on soft foods.
We've been offering George an easy-to-manage high protein diet while we waited for the scab on that wound to slough off so we could see what was underneath. Beaks are made of keratin, like fingernails, hooves and antlers, so they continue to grow and can self-repair. The scab came off last week, and we could see that the beak injury was mending very well.”
On Nov. 5, George was well enough to be released back at Camden Harbor, at Lyman-Morse. Avian Haven’s staff came back with him and Betty McBrien was there to witness it.
“I thought there would be a crowd, but it was just me so I was the one who got to open his cage and let him free,” said McBrien. “I was so happy that he was not only healed, but that he could come back to the Camden harbor.
Added O’Mira: “George took his sweet time making an exit from the carrier. Then he scooted over to the seawall where he enjoyed the view for quite a while before flying off beautifully into the inner harbor. Betty is amazing; her concern for this gull and her kindness toward him saved his life.”
To see what else the volunteers and staff do to rescue birds, visit Avian Haven
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org