One of my most memorable experiences!
By Carol Lee
Perhaps my most memorable rescue and release involved a Barn Swallow and happened May 20, 2005. I was returning home from errands via busy 82nd street around 5 PM. In one of the three lanes in the opposite direction I was traveling, I saw a little black shape in the road, with wings flapping as cars drove past it. My first thought was that it was a dead barn swallow, its wings flapping because car after car was zooming over it.
I still couldn’t ignore it and pulled into the first side street, dashed out when there was a break in traffic and snatched up the little body. Running back to the car, I buckled up and suddenly felt two tiny feet wrap around my little finger. I couldn’t believe this half-ounce bird could be alive.
It was a hot, frightened adult barn swallow. In another minute I was in the kitchen drawing up IV fluid and medication. Drop by drop, the liquid drizzled into its mouth, helping alleviate shock and cool my little patient. I placed the swallow in a box with a perch on the bottom and over the next hour its respirations gradually slowed and the bird’s eyes opened. I weighed keeping it overnight versus releasing it at dusk, when this species is active and out scooping up bugs. Suddenly the little swallow rallied, as if just maybe it realized it was saved from certain death in the middle of a busy street at rush hour.
After two more hours of fluids and recuperation, I felt its best hope was to let it go. I did what I could and there were no signs of injuries or damage whatsoever. Suddenly, as I took the bird into the backyard, holding it briefly so it could get oriented, its eyes opened wide, and the unspoken message clearly was, “Let me go…I’m all right, and I can fly.”
With that, I slowly opened my hand and as if sprinting at the sound of a gunshot, the swallow dug into my palm with its feet and took wing, soaring over the roof and high into the air, aloft within moments. It was most gratifying to watch. Releasing this tiny bird was every bit exhilarating as releasing a hawk or an owl. This was a very special rescue that told me I was definitely at the right place at the right time.
My guess is the swallow swooped to the street to snag a bug, became grounded as air flow and cars sped over it, and had no choice but to lie there and wait for fate to take its course. That event made my day, and I know I’ll ever forget it.