ROCKLAND – The gull didn’t spring from the box in a desperate escape. Nor did it soar high, circle once, and dip a salute before flying toward the sun’s golden rays. Instead, the herring gull released in Rockland Tuesday, Nov. 7, required a strong push from its travel abode. Once liberated, the gull stood at the edge of the pier where his new friends Brian and Jamie of J and J Lobster came to his rescue two months ago.
Not every bird brought to Avian Haven Wild Bird Rehabilitation in the Waldo County town of Freedom re-enter the wild in the same location they were found. In fact, according to Haven volunteers Louise MacLellan-Ruf and Nic Ruf, some birds never leave the sanctuary.
Each one, though, is granted a second chance at life.
The gull’s recovery began September 27 when Jamie and Brian noticed the droop in the left wing.
“It was in trouble and they realized that,” MacLellan-Ruf said. “They were really great guys about taking care of it and being gentle. They did the right thing.”
They called the Rufs, who stopped their normal everydays, grabbed the box, and took a drive. In Belfast, they handed the gull to another volunteer, Avery, who took it the rest of the way.
At AH, staff and volunteers treated the gull for a damaged tendon near its wrist, according to AH manager Diane Winn. Winn is also one of the founders of the nonprofit bird hospital started nearly 20 years ago.
For the gull, staff provided wound management and physical therapy until the end of October when the bird was able to fly.
“By this past weekend, flight was excellent, and the bird restless,” Winn said. “We decided it was time to go home.”
So the Rufs grabbed their car keys again, and returned the animal to its spot, a few hundred feet from the Good Tern Co-op. The Co-op, according to MacLellan-Ruf, happens to be donating its monthly Round Up donation proceeds to AH during the month of November. The program allows customers to donate their change to the charity of the month.
The Rufs, who’ve been volunteering for a few months, have been involved with several rescues in the Midcoast area. Yet, the gull’s re-entry to the wild was a first.
“It’s exciting,” MacLellan-Ruf said.
The Rufs once rescued a nest of baby swallows that had fallen after a homeowner knocked the nest while window cleaning under an eave, according to Ruf.
“You should have seen them,” he said. “They wanted to be fed. There were five of them, their mouths wide open. So we were using an eyedropper, dropping food. They were ravenous.”
They’ve also transported a blue heron, an owl, a Cedar Waxwing, a couple of gulls, a crow, and two nests from Rockland, Camden, Owls Head, Thomaston, and South Thomaston.
“Nic and I love wildlife,” MacLellan-Ruf said. “So this was an easy fit.”
Reach Sarah Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org