Well, the merganser didn't make it. I returned to the bay last night around 9pm armed with more bread and a flashlight. I threw the remainder of the loaf out to her in pieces, although most of the pieces didn't make it anywhere near her. The fact that I couldn't see very well didn't do too much for my already terrible aim. I did my best to keep my flashlight use to a minimum to avoid upsetting her (as well as the other waterfowl in the vicinity). I left around 9:30pm, after silently (okay, out loud a little, too) pleading with the merganser to just make it through the night, that help would come in the morning.
At around 12:30 pm today the woman the Vet's office had directed me to (the same woman who called several people/places to try to get help reaching the merganser, and who had advised me on what I could do for the bird) called me to say that she was at the bay. I described where the merganser was once she had the lighthouse in sight, and she said she would call me back. I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, during break of my 4-6pm class, I left a voicemail on her cell phone, asking about what had happened. When class finished, I had a voicemail from her.
This woman acted with so much selflessness. All the hours I was anxiously waiting for her call, she was out there trying everything she could to find some way out to the merganser. It is my understanding that she eventually found some folks who were willing to help and who had access to a boat. Apparently, they almost had the boat in the water when the merganser finally passed away.
I really can't thank this woman enough, and though I've told her that over the phone a couple of times, well, I just can't say "I can't thank you enough" enough. So, thank you, sincerely and deeply for your dedication, kindness, and hard work.
Earlier tonight I went out to the bay to sort of say goodbye to the brave little merganser. When I first heard that she had passed away, I have to admit I kind of lost it. No, I wasn't sobbing uncontrollably, but there were definitely tears and some rantings. I just wish that she had passed away more peacefully, instead of hanging on through the night, for more than 24 hours, only to end up dying. Instead, she spent hours stuck to the ice, bleeding, helpless, and scared. It sounds funny to say this, but I was so proud of her for making it through the night. What a strong, magnificent creature.
I can't help wondering if the Bufflehead stayed by her side today.
Or how many other birds hunters will non-fatally shoot and leave for dead.