Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Asunder, that's how our day went (in case you're wondering)

Look at that eye! Imagine, this Northern Gannet has a wingspan of five feet! And look at that beak!

Yep, we had the day all planned out. Read the Sunday Times, take walks, have a nice quiet lunch, watch birds. What? Watch birds?? Did we go wrong there? We watched bird, not birds–an injured Northern Gannet found walking on our busy one lane dirt road. A road thick with bikes, scooters, walkers, and dogs, lots of dogs. And, although the Northern Gannet is a huge bird (about a five foot wingspan), both dogs and bird would be hurt badly in a fight. I can vouch for that. This guy lunged at me, and I had to side step him quickly. He was injured, scared, tired, and probably in shock. I would've lunged too.

I tried using a big flannel sheet as a foil, which usually works with animals. I can help them negotiate their way back to safe territory by holding a blanket in my hands, like a toreador with a cape, and forcing them to walk the way I want, but not with this guy. He had his mind made up. He was doing it his way or no way. So he lashed out at me, and I danced a sideways jig while trying to get him into a big plastic box. 

Jeff was on the phone talking with the sheriff's department, and then finally, finding out about Avian Haven, a group of caring, hard working people who save and care for over a thousand birds each year (1,571 in 2012). They are one of the largest rehabilitation practices in New England. 

Sorry, I couldn't photograph the process of getting him into the box, but we did, and then Jeff slid a piece of cardboard under the box and lifted it enough to get the blanket underneath. We used the blanket as a sling and moved the frantic bird into our flat-floored trunk and folded down the back seat to give it air.

We drove an hour north and met up with the Avian Haven rescue man, Marc Payne. He is a dedicated bird lover who gives freely of his time and care, but believe me, Avian Haven could sure use some donations to help it keep doing its work.

Marc pulled on his protective gloves (he has many scars to show for his work), lifted the box, and reached inside.

He grabbed the Gannet's beak (smart move) and slipped the bird out of the box.

And he ran.

Tipped the Gannet upside down.

And tucked it into...

...a big dog kennel.

Look at those wild eyes.

Good luck!

This is a bird I've seen only a few times. Last summer I watched about 200 of them flying over John's Bay, diving and catching fish. They look enormous with their wings spread. You can see how powerful the huge beak must be. They can dive into the water from as far as 130 feet in the air, and then swim to a depth of 70 plus feet in pursuit of fish and squid. I never dreamed that we would have the chance to see one and look into its wild and beautiful eyes.

Well, there is always next Sunday.

Sending love across the miles,


p.s. Your tax-deductible donations enable the success of Avian Haven's mission of top-quality care for wild birds. Contribute on-line at or by check to Avian Haven, 418 N. Palermo Rd., Freedom, ME 04941.


Bonnie K said...

Reminds me of my Mother-in-law's successful capture of a hurt hawk. Glad you could find somewhere for it to go. It looks like an amazing bird.

taylorsoutback said...

Beautiful bird - looks like he is in good and proper hands. Not too far away from where we live is a raptor center run by Marge Gibson. They have rescued and rehabilitated 100's of eagles, and other wild birds. During our very late winter when the lakes were still iced over into May, dozens of loons became stranded during a bad ice storm when they could find no open water which they need to take off. Volunteers rescued them and turned them over to the center. There are such fine and carrying fols out there.

Julie Marie said...

Oh cousin, what a beautiful bird... I am so sad he (she) is injured and will pray they can rehabilitate and release her (him)... I will get a check off right away with a little note that I found them through your post... I love people who devote their lives to helping all of God's precious creatures... I tell myself if I help every one of them I can, perhaps others say the same thing and many are saved... I love them all so much... YOU and Jeff are angels... and I love you, xoxo Julie Marie

From the Kitchen said...

There'll be more Sundays to read the newspaper. How often will a gannet need rescuing? Hope all is well with you, Sharon, and the gannet.


La Table De Nana said...

You were both brave:-)
We have Le Nichoir caring for birds etc..
The gannet was lucky you found him..
Take care..

kj said...

You and Jeff got angel wings today! I can't believe you got him in a box to begin with.

These photos are great. The gannet almost seems to know all will be well


Vicki Boster said...

Dearest Sharon-- only you could tell this story of an amazing rescue!! I do have a similar one though-- last fall we were walking our beach in Florida and we found an injured gannet tied up in a fishing net. Dan cut him free but it was obvious that he was injured. I ran to a nearby house and borrowed their cat carrier. We got the bird in the carrier and drove it to the nearby animal clinic. They told us it was a gannet and that all the other gannets had already gone north. I hope that he was saved-- I've often wondered. He had the most beautiful blue eyes--

You seem to have a knack for rescuing animals-- it's your calling and that is surely why God puts you in these positions:)

You and your hubby are a great rescue team--

Lori ann said...

wow! poor thing! thank goodness he ended up near you and jeff (i don't believe it was a coincidence). you are the bird whisperer :)

we once made a side trip to lambert's bay (south africa) and took a small boat out to bird's island to see one of the largest colonies of cape gannets! there are over 20,000 birds! it was fascinating, very noisy and very smelly too. i read that the northern gannet is very similar to the cape gannet. i hope this one finds it's way soon!

here is an interesting video of the african colony,

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for Avian Haven and its dedicated volunteers, but also, thank goodness for people like you, who care enough to get injured birds to them. I think that ferocious beak and those scary eyes would have put many people off helping.

Anonymous said...

thank goodness you happened along before he was injured more seriously.He surely does look scared to bits, sometimes fear can be enough to kill a bird but this one looks a fighter.hat made for an interesting trip didn't it!!!!I have never saw this bird and we live on Lake Huron, maybe they don't come this far North, or don't come this way, they are a beauty, wicked beak.What would our world do without these wonderful people that rescue animals, and people such as you and your husband as well, such an inspiration,

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

What a wonderful rescue story.


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Vicki Boster,

Amazing coincidence! You two had to work fast and nimbly to stay away from your gannet's amazing beak. The rescue worker on the phone told Jeff just how deadly it is and to stay out of striking distance. The poor guy was so scared and yet still so regal.

Yes, the blue eyes are amazing. The color of the sea.

Sending you love,


As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

A beautiful bird and an amazing story. Thanks for doing your part!

Nellie said...

What a beautiful bird, and how frightened it must have been! This was an outstanding deed, Sharon. Hopefully the bird will be able to return to good health and enjoy its natural habitat.

Take care! Today is a new day!


Anonymous said...

Sharon this is an amazing rescue that hopefully will turn out well for the Gannett! I love your tenacity in getting help for all creatures! xoxo ♥ Martha Ellen

Vee said...

I am smiling to think that just the right people were there when this beautiful and wild-eyed bird needed them most. Thank you for the information about the Aviary Haven, too. Hope that you get to take your ease today!

CJ said...

You are the animal rescue Queen! I loved reading this story and enjoyed the photos of the beautiful Gannet. Thanks to you I can now say I know what a Gannet looks like! Hoping he/she recovers and is gracing the skies with its beauty soon.

Lydia said...

What a lovely thing to do. I would like to think I would be so brave- but I don't know.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Aw, come on dear Lydia, I think you're brave!!



Lili said...

You and Jeff are an amazing duo when it comes to avian rescues. I can only imagine it to be most fitting for them to be put in your path. Bravo to you both, it always does my heart good to know the right people were there at the right time! xoxo

Mim said...

That is one heck of an amazing story!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Lili and Mim,

You never know what is going to pop out of the sea or drop from the sky around here. We don't ever have a dull second in Maine.


Pom Pom said...

What a beautiful bird! I wonder what he was thinking. I agree, the eye is stunning. Well done, Sharon!

Aisling said...

You seem to always be rescuing someone, don't you? I love that about you. Thank you for sharing your story!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi dear Aisling,

It is our pleasure (our joy) to work with animals in any way we can.


troutbirder said...

Wow! What an interesting story and bird. I hope he recovers. Two years ago a friend and I captured an injured snowy owl during an irruption. We took it the rehab center up at the Univ. of Minnesota.

Jeri Landers said...

A happy ending thanks to you and Jeff!Who knows what may have happened to the bird had you not stopped to help. I am always glad for people like you, and anyone who gives their time or effort to help creatures in distress.

Anonymous said...


What on earth makes people think that sort of thing is okay?

Sharon Lovejoy said...

To the anonymous commenter below: How about having the courage to leave your name and address so that I can answer you. I amended the text to more fully explain how we transported the gannet.

Our backseat is on an angle. The Northern Gannet was HUGE, and there was no way to get him into the backseat without moving him too many times and putting him in even more stress, which we did not want to do.

Saabs have a backseat which unlatches and turns the entire car into an open cargo area. The gannet had a ride as comfortable as the one we took.

The reason Marc had to run from so far away is that we parked our car in the shade so that the gannet would not overheat.

Thanks for caring about animals. We have saved many animals and birds and transported them to rehabs throughout the U.S. It is important to gently cover the bird with a box and keep it in the dark (with plenty of air) to minimize shock.

Sharon Lovejoy said...



Julie Marie said...

To "Anonymous"... first off, it's very easy to leave a comment like you did while hiding behind being "anonymous"... would you rather they had left that magnificent creature in the road to die?... obviously you know nothing about rescuing birds or animals, which, like Sharon and Jeff I have done my entire life... and obviously you know nothing about Sharon and Jeff... to Sharon and Jeff... you do not need to justify your actions to anyone... those of us who really DO love all of God's precious creatures understand... xoxo Julie Marie PS If Anonymous would like to contact me, feel free to do so... but leave your name... I doubt I will hear from you...

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Now don't get riled up dear Julie Marie. I think we clarified this and it should be ok.

Thanks for caring so passionately!