Rescued great blue heron is returned to wild in Plymouth
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PLYMOUTH — Rescued by staffers from Plimoth Plantation and cared for by wildlife specialists, a young great blue heron was released back into the wild Tuesday from the plantation’s Wampanoag homesite on the banks of the Eel River.
Given the green light when her cage door was opened, the long-legged migratory wading bird did not linger for goodbyes. She rocketed from the cage, flew hard across the wide stretch of water, and was gone from view in seconds.
After the plantation’s director, Ellie Donovan, had spotted the bird lingering for days in the marshes apparently unable to fly, communications head Rob Kluin and Wampanoag program manager Tim Turner mounted a rescue operation, keeping themselves between the heron and the water and trapping the bird in a patch of sweetgrass.
“It was a real-life citizen-scientist ornithology moment,” Kluin said.
He wrapped the bird in a blanket and drove her to the Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, where wildlife rehabilitation director Lynn Miller cared for her.
Born this spring and now on her own, the young female was hungry, suffering from parasites and perhaps blood loss from a cut, and — well — depressed.
“It’s not easy living in the wild,” Miller said.
But her wings were all right and the growth of her feathers indicated that the heron had been well fed by her parents in the first months of her life, Miller said. She was calm while living in a cage just tall enough for her long legs (great blues are typically 4 feet tall) but small enough for the heron to feel safe during her care, and took to the air like a healthy bird when released.
Miller said she was glad the wildlife center had been able to nurse the young bird back to health. Not all herons brought there for care survive, she said.
Robert Knox can be reached at email@example.com.