Went out to Irondequoit Bay today, and as I made my way down the pier I realized that there was a bird on the ice, just laying there. It struck me as odd, and as I got closer I saw that the ice around the bird was stained orange.
A female Common Merganser had apparently been shot (currently there is legal duck hunting at the end of the pier) and got up on the ice to rest. I'm not exactly sure how, but part of her is frozen to the ice she is resting on, I believe. Perhaps some of the blood from her wound froze to the ice. Or, this might not be the case at all, and her injury may be inhibiting her movement so severely that she can't budge an inch.
I called a vet in the area, and they gave me a few phone numbers of a rehabilitation center, veterinary offices closer to Irondequoit Bay, and specialists to try. The vet offices and the rehabilitation center were closed, since it's Sunday. However, I did reach one of the specialists (I don't really know what to refer to her as, but she was/is someone who can help and who knows what to do) on her cell.
Long story short, this lovely woman advised me on what to do, and contacted anyone who might be able to help her get to the bird. No one can help either one of us reach the bird until tomorrow morning, and that's not definite. As advised, I got some cracked corn and bread and tried to toss some out to the Merganser. The woman helping me figure out how-in-the-heck to help this bird did say that neither one was really the best thing to feed it, but that it was better than nothing.
The wind and my poor aim made tossing the bread out difficult, and throwing the cracked corn just outright failed. The merganser kept waking up, fainting, waking up, and fainting again. I tried not to upset her, because when she first saw me, she started to struggle to get away. It was painful to watch, since she honestly can't budge from where she's lying, despite all her wing-flailing. I gave up after the third piece of bread (wasn't throwing whole slices, I broke it up into smaller bits) because I felt like I was doing more harm than good. I didn't want to upset her any more.
So, essentially, I'm going to head back out there around 8 or 8:30 to try to toss out some more food. All I can really do is pray for the sweet little thing to make it through the night, to survive until someone can get out to her. Either that, or for her suffering to end soon. Who knows how long she's been out there.....
In any case, she's not alone. This female Bufflehead stayed by her side the entire time I was there. She continued to dive and feed, but she was always nearby, seeming to watch over the merganser.
Maybe I've seen too many Disney movies, and in reality there was some other motivation for the Bufflehead's presence. But, in support of my theory of interspecies sympathy, if you will, there weren't any other ducks in the immediate area, making me think that there wasn't any insane abundance of food under the surface in that location. Maybe there's some sinister motive behind the Bufflehead's constant bedside presence (not sure what I even mean by that) and I'm off in La-La land where all the animals live together peacefully and there are lots of meadows, rainbows, and tulips. Whatever.
Here I go again, out into the cold. Not sure what I'll find. Either a still-suffering Merganser, or one that's finally succumbed to the loss of blood, lack of food, and the cold.