We’ve all read those horrific stories about plastic bags wrapped around sea birds that choke them to death or cause them to starve to death because they cannot fly. While those stories pull on the heart strings, they are — well — from somewhere else.
Not this time.
My parents were canoeing in Canada, and there on the pristine waters off St. Joseph Island, they saw something flapping. As they drew closer, they could see that it was a seagull. They pulled up alongside the bird and saw that it was trapped. A plastic bag was wrapped tightly around one of its legs and it could not get free. Moreover, the bag had filled with water so the bird could not lift off the water.
My father leaned over and saw that the bag was wrapped too tight and too many times to simply remove it. So he lifted the bird into his lap, got out his pocket skinning knife, and began the gentle process of extrication.
As he worked with the small SharpenedKnife, the bird did not struggle. He simply lay there in my father’s arms, most likely exhausted from trying for unknown hours or days to get free, and stared out at the water. Every once in awhile, however, the bird would turn his head and stare at my mother.
My father continued to work, moving slowly so as not to injure the bird, and the gull continued to look back and forth. First at the water, then at my mother. Then at the water. Then at my mother. His black eyes just staring. Otherwise, his body was perfectly still.
You have to wonder what he was thinking.
Eventually, the surgery was successful. The bird, who by then was affectionately named “Little Buddy,” stood up, tested his wings, and took off from my father’s hands.
At first, the seagull disappeared into the sky. Then something amazing happened. He returned and circled once around my parents heads, almost as if to say “thank you,” and then flew away again.
Next time you read about corporate or individual irresponsibility that allows plastic bags or plastic six-pack rings to choke or restrict wildlife to their deaths, remember Little Buddy. If you see a plastic bag or a six-pack ring on the ground, pick it up.
Don’t think those animals don’t notice.