Posts Tagged ‘Birds’

An Encounter with a Great Blue Heron!

May 23, 2010

Bettina Bergh                     610 words

2140 Battle Row

Augusta, GA 30904-3502

Phone: (706) 733-4012

An Encounter with a Great Blue Heron


Bettina Bergh

One day when I was at work, I got a call that someone had a great blue heron and was bringing it in for my boss. My boss, Stu, had a game preserve of his own a few miles away, but didn’t have a big enough cage ready for the heron, so he put it in a large cardboard carton with a big bowl of water and a box full of thawed herring in it, and left it overnight at the museum.

The next morning when I came in, I checked all of the cages to make sure the animals were OK, and then went to the heron’s room. I opened the door, walked in, and was greeted by a strong fishy smell, and a very indignant three-and-a-half foot tall bird that had ripped the carton to shreds. The heron immediately flew up on the counter and tried to escape through the windows that ran the length of the room. He then pooped a large fishy mess all over the counter, jumped back down and tried to get away from me. All the while it was making loud honking and croaking noises, as it indicated its displeasure.

I retreated and spoke with my boss. We found a large wooden crate to temporarily put the heron. Then, he left for a meeting, and I went back in wearing a leather jacket and thick leather linemen’s gloves to catch the bird.

The next hour was slapstick comedy. I tried to corner the heron. It escaped from me, and I nearly fell repeatedly in the slippery mess on the floor.  We ran in circles around the room, the bird flying and jumping, and me careening on the increasingly messy floor. I would nearly corner the bird, and then it would try to peck me in the face with its sword-like ten inch bill. I couldn’t get very close to it since I had the no eye protection, and my arms weren’t as long as its neck and beak. But, I did get close enough to get smacked repeatedly with its long wings.

I was really getting worried about how I was going to catch this bird, when it tried to escape under a 4 legged chair, and got stuck. Its head and neck were on one side of the chair, but its wings and legs were frantically flailing on the other side, as the bird pooped some more on the floor. I was on the heron in a second, and managed to get one arm around its wings, and get the other hand around its beak. Slowly, the heron and I retreated, sliding all the while, until I managed to wrestle it into the crate.

I was tired, sweaty and smelled of the fishy droppings on my pants and boots. But, there was still a big job that had to be done. I had to clean up all of the counters and tables in the room, and mop the floor.

It was about an hour later, when I left the museum to go home, shower and change my clothes. I passed a group of school kids who were coming in for a tour of the museum. “Yuck, what’s that smell?” a boy shrieked as he passed me, while a nearby girl backed up and held her nose. The neat line of children made loud derogatory noises and scattered as I, a very fragrant zookeeper walked past to my car.  I think we were all quite glad we were going in different directions!