Tarred and feathered: rescued birds return to the wild


Two American Gold Finches got a new lease on life thanks to quick thinking by a good Samaritan

WINCHESTER, Va. (WDVM) — Two love birds landed themselves in a sticky situation last week, when they got trapped in a pot of tar.

Glenn Rudy, the owner of Shenandoah Sanitary Supply, had finished a bit of roof repair work one Sunday night, wrapping up around 9 p.m.

“It was a beautiful moonlit night, and so everything was going swimmingly so they would say,” Rudy explained. But what began as maintenance work quickly turned in to a rescue mission, after a pair of American Goldfinches took a dip into the black sticky mess a few hours later, giving a new meaning to the term ‘tarred and feathered.’

Rudy was able to get the birds out of the tar, but he knew the couple would need much more help if they were to survive the ordeal. He brought them to the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center in Boyce, Va. to veterinarian Jen Riley.

Due to tar’s sticky nature, Riley’s team needed to use oil to clean the tar off of the birds. Once oiled, the birds got a soapy bath to remove all of the dangerous substances that had been on their bodies. Then, staff kept watch over the birds, making sure they didn’t have any further injuries that would prevent an immediate return to the wild.

Unfortunately, the male goldfinch had broken a bone in his wing, likely from struggling in the tar. Thankfully, Riley says, the fractured bone was naturally splinted by the other bones in the wing, making for a quick recovery. Plus, his mate was there to keep an eye on him.

“He would kind of droop his wing a little bit, and the female is sitting there bringing things over to him, bringing food over, making sure his bandage is okay, messing with his bandage a little bit,” Riley said, adding that American Gold Finches mate for life. “So it was just really sweet to see that relationship and the way that they kind of took care of each other in care in that scary situation together.”

Riley says the added stress of separation for the birds would have made the situation much more difficult, and notes it is rare that bonded pairs get brought to rehabilitation centers together.

After a week, the birds were ready to return to the wild and continue their life together. On Monday, Riley placed a small box carrying the birds near a grove of bushes and trees on Rudy’s property.

“It’s one small step for Mr. and Mrs. Finch, one large step for nature,” Rudy said after the birds flew off together.

As for Rudy, he completed the last of his roof repairs, and this time he says, he covered the pot once he finished.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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