Friday, May 14, 2010

Gallinule in Bowl with Duckweed

All photos by Nina Harfmann

I recently wrote about the spate of Purple Gallinule sightings in Ohio; we've probably set a one-year record for these extravagant purple beasts. At least six have come to light thus far, and who knows how many others are lurking undetected amongst the bur-reeds and cattails.

The bird above - photos kindly provided by Nina Harfmann - was found in a garage in St. Marys, Ohio, Auglaize County. That seems like a weird locale for a rare bird to turn up, I know, but in the case of Purple Gallinules, it really isn't. These bizarre wetland-dwellers have a decided propensity for showing up in the strangest places, and the species has a distinct wanderlust. I seem to recall one that was found in Maine with its head stuck firmly in a puffin's burrow.

My, what big feet you have, thou of the pastel kippah and candy-corn bill.

Anyway, fortunately for this gallinule and the world in general, it was brought to the good people at Brukner Nature Center, who have done their best to rehabilitate our wayward pile of multi-hued feathers. And they've done a great job - the bird is slated for release soon.

Nina - quite unecessarily - apologizes for the photos being below her usual high standards, but the gallinule was stored in a shady cage and separated from onlookers by sturdy mesh. The meshed-in cage was for our safety - these are rather savage beasts and Brukner wanted to take no chances of bystanders being mauled. In Florida, strongmen in traveling roadside carnivals often wrestle Purple Gallinules - a pursuit only eclipsed by Alaskan king crab fishing and logging in terms of danger. (I'm kidding with this stuff, really, just joshing around. No need to send snarky, inquisitive or querulous e-mails!)

I am glad that there are people and organizations that will tend to animals such as this gallinule, and do their best to ensure that they are returned to the wild.

Brukner Nature Center excels at rehab, and much more. The center is sited on some of the best property along the scenic Stillwater River, and the center itself is fabulous piece of architecture filled with informative exhibits. Please be sure and stop by if you are in the area.

Here's wishing the best for this gallinule - may you once again return to the Deep South to roam the Floridian swamps.


Dave Lewis said...

I once wrestled a Goldfinch...I lost...

Nina said...

"Who knows how many others are lurking," has planted that possibility that I might see one in my own Little Pond.
Yesterday I was hunkered down around the edge stalking dragonflies, when a rustling in the sedges across the pool was followed by the emergence of a bold, blue-headed bird.
Drats, a grackle.

Still hoping for that gallinule in my field. But the caged variety allows a longer look.