Astute observers and a dedicated volunteer give a doomed bird a second chance
It’s a warm spring morning and photographer Robert Bunch is doing what he loves most — shooting images of birds and other life near White Rock’s Sunset Bay, located on the southeast side of the pond. A teacher and a bunch of young students are standing nearby, and the teacher says to Bunch, “Is that a bird out there?” Bunch squints into the sunlight, through tree branches, and sees a long wing sticking straight up into the air. Bunch knew the bird was stuck, but it was across the water in impenetrable muck, he says. However, Bunch, a bird enthusiast, couldn’t sit back and let the animal suffer. “I just can’t watch a creature in trouble without doing something, you know?” So he called a friend who directed him to Kathy Rogers, who owns the Rogers Wildlife Rehab Center. Rogers was tied up with errands for the next couple of hours, but agreed to help if Bunch would hold tight, and if he could figure out a way to get her canoe to White Rock Lake. “I waited a couple hours, then drove out there, and we loaded the canoe in my truck and drove back to the lake.” Rogers, an assistant and Bunch piled into the tiny canoe and set out after the trapped black-crowned night heron. “The boat was real wobbly. I took an old camera and lens because I didn’t know if I was going to fall in. So we got out there, and there was the bird. You could see how his wing was caught up there. Turns out it was caught on a kite string. Someone’s kite had gotten away, and it was just draped over those trees. It tried to get away, and that string got tighter and tighter. “[Rogers] reached for the bird … it bit her and drew blood … she cut it free and carried it back to the boat. We paddled back, and she held that bird between her knees. She said he needed to be checked out real closely.” Rogers took the injured bird back to the rehab center and fixed him up. A few days later, she invited Bunch to join her for the heron’s release back into the wild. Bunch, of course, brought his camera to capture the magical moment.