Sunday, October 02, 2011

Bird Dilema~ What would you do?

Howdee all,

Last week, while birding, Sandy Point on Plum Island..I saw a two photographers with their cameras pointed on something…

I was curious to see what it was…so I walked up to the area…

I couldn’t see what they were looking at.

They told me its right in front of us…I was looking further away..

Plum Island_014 (1)Then…

I saw this..sandpiper with clam stuck_002I stared at it for a few minutes..

The bird didn’t move at all..

sandpiper with clam stuck_009I asked why they would put a stuffed bird out there to photograph.

sandpiper with clam stuck_012Well, ~~~~

it wasn’t stuffed..

sandpiper with clam stuck_013This bird was alive and so was the clam that was clamped down on its bill.

The bird couldn’t fly..the clam was too heavy.

sandpiper with clam stuck_018I wondered why the photographers were not trying to help the bird.

I told them that we should help this bird.

They said that most likely we would not be able to open the clam…that they were letting nature be.

It was difficult for me to walk away as they continued to photograph the bird.

I thought of the bird all day…..and still do.

I posted one of the photos above to facebook..with the caption

Stuck, STUCK!

Most that commented felt I should have made an effort to help the bird…and in hindsight..I wish I would have.

What would you have done?

sandpiper with clam stuck_016

Here is another time that my heart strings were pulled by sadness for a suffering bird..

Jeff and I were on a small Island off the coast of Chatham..reachable by boat only.

I saw this young Gull…sitting away from the other gulls.

Birding Clamming_024This just sucks doesn’t it?

Did it catch the fisherman's lure as he was fishing?

Birding Clamming_025Or did he eat the lure as it was lying on the ground or in the water..

Fisherman's trash..

Birding Clamming_026I tried to approach the gull

Birding Clamming_027It moved away..

Birding Clamming_028I let it be…I didn’t want to stress it more…

I had nothing to capture it with..

Birding Clamming_029On hindsight, maybe I should have called a local bird rescue.

What would you do?

Birding Clamming_030


  1. Interesting topic!

    I will help one creature as long as it doesn't hurt another. For example I will not disturb a fox about to take a bird, but I would help a bird on its own. I make an exception for domesticated animals, my cat doesn't need to eat wild birds to survive.

    Of course you can't always help, your gull with the lure would not be easy to catch.

    Its an individual choice, and I don't disagree if someone decides its best to leave nature to its course.

  2. Help. the. bird.

    In this case, I guess the bird will just die from starvation while a bunch of heartless photographers get some 'great pix'.


  3. Hmm....tough situation. I think I would have tried to catch both birds to fix the situation...and I like the challenge of the scenario. Crazy about the clam on the bill. Wow!

  4. In both cases that you photographed I probably would have tried to call a local bird rescue group, I used to do that in Florida when I would come across birds in distress; for instance birds in tangled fishing line or with a hook stuck on them someplace. I haven't yet put the local bird rescue group into my cell phone contacts list here in Utah, I need to do that today.

    In the case of the peep with the clam shell stuck on it's beak we can hope that when the clam started to dry up from not being immersed in the water that it would open it's shell.

    I would't step in to scare a natural predator away from it's prey though.

  5. The bird with the clam would probably die of starvation before the clam did. The clam will open when it dies, but not until then. So I would have either called a bird rescue place or tried to catch the bird myself.

    As for the one with the fisherman's lure; it has swallowed the hook. I would call the rescue people and hang around until they got there.

  6. The sanderling should be easy to catch since it can't fly. If you had a pocket knife you could probably insert it and kill the clam with it, or find a suitable instrument in the tool kit in your car to force the clam to open. I feel for you. It hurts to think about the predicament of these two birds.

  7. Easy decision. You help when you can. Photographers can be dorks and these certainly didn't know jack about clams.

    In Colorado, I was in the middle of a census in Ward, at 10,000 feet and a rosy finch got mauled by a cat. My companions were stunned when I rescued the bird, terminated my participation and headed back down to Boulder to the Humain Society where there was a capable rehab center.

    On a lighter note, the clam is in more trouble than the bird as it would not last long in the open air with the shell open. It would eventualy weaken and open up.

  8. Wow, I feel sorry for both of the birds. Do you think the clam would eventualy let go. Maybe someone ended helping the sanderling with the clam, I hope so.

  9. Why not kill the bird and throw the clam back in the water in order to save the poor mollusk? I say this not to be a smart***, but to point out that judging the course of action isn't always as simple as we'd like it to be. If we'd not stop a fox from eating the bird, why would we intervene to prevent the bird's demise by a natural accident? Is predation more "natural" than other biotic causes of death? What if a falcon was eyeing the struggling sanderling as a potential easy meal and your interference unknowingly interrupted that predator-prey interaction?

    There aren't clear right and wrong answers to those questions. (Except that killing the bird is illegal.) Personally, I'd probably try to help the bird, because the suffering would weigh on my mind. I'd just like to see those who would not necessarily step in be judged a little less quickly.

    The gull adds another whole argument - whether anthropogenic sources of harm to animals are less "natural" than things like a predator, the clam, or a hurricane. That answer isn't quite as simple as it appears either.

  10. I think most of us would rush to help the gull and hesitate to assist the sanderling based upon our individual opions of the sources of entrapment (one anthropogenic the other natural). In reality, both are examples of significant bird mortality and some of the many selective processes in place in today's world.

  11. Hi Dawn, I would have tried to help the bird with the clam. The clam is not going to eat the bird, so the bird needed help. If i could not help it, the wildlife rescue could help. I also would call the wildlife rescue for the gull with the hook in it. You would not be able to catch it to help and not equiped to do so.

  12. Hi Dawn.I'm not sure what I would do..bird rescue, best bet.
    Would be afraid to hurt the animal further w/out proper tools. Probably never catch the gull w/out assistance..the little guy tho.. After seeing this I'm going to make sure I have bird rescue numbers available for LI..Thanks for making us all think about this..

  13. After more thoroughly reading the comments..agree w/ predator prey..but what difference anthropogenic or not? We are all in this together..and human influence is everywhere..If we can help a fellow being in distress, we should do so..

  14. Interesting topic, i might actually have helped the bird, as the clam would have had nothing to loose, the bird sure wasn't food for it...

    Sad to see the gull hooked!! :(

  15. Thanks everyone for commenting and letting me know what you would do in this situation.

    Its very difficult to see birds in these situations.

    In the future I will make sure I know what numbers to call for help..and will try to help the birds as best I can.


ok what do you really think?????