Monday, April 07, 2014

Explanation from the Wild Bird Fund

Common Loon -- courtesy of

In response to yesterday's post about the Common Loon and the Virginia Rail recently seen on a Central Park waterbody officially called The Lake, today I received a letter from Rita McMahon of Wild Bird Fund:

Hello Marie,

FYI:  A common loon was brought to the Wild Bird Fund  by Animal Care & Control on April 1st.  We believe it had landed in a parking lot in Brooklyn.  Sasha Nelson, DVM, examined the bird and found only superficial scrapes on the carpal section of the wings and the front of the hocks, mild injuries associated with dragging on pavement.  The animal was in good health, swam, dove and ate heartily at the center and when we released it in the lake on Wednesday, April 2nd.  I called to ask permission to release the loon in the reservoir but I hit a dead end with the parks department.  Such permissions take a very long time to arrange.  For the loon's sake I did not want to wait.

The loon that was photographed on the 3rd and later found dead was delivered to us by Central Park Conservancy on April 4th.  Dr. Ken Conley, pathologist from Wildlife Conservation Society, did a necropsy the next morning, April 5th.  The loon that died was emaciated.  It had not eaten for days and had bumble foot with exposed bone on both feet.  It had no abrasions on its wings or hocks and it weighed much less than the loon released on the 2nd.  It was a different and dying bird.

As to the Virginia rail:  Some mechanical accident left the bird scalped, missing the skin on the top of his head.  the skin was stretched and slowly brought together via three surgeries.  The bird overwintered with us because we could not get it transport south.  In the past we managed to fly two rails south via the airlines.  This year it just did not work out with the airlines.  

When I had a car, we would release the rails, cuckoos, gadwalls and red-necked grebes at the lake in Van Cortland Park.  We would welcome transport help for such releases.

Rita McMahon
Wild Bird Fund