January 11, 2008 in Keepers Log, More Logbook


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Branta bernicla

Several days ago, while walking along the trail to the lighthouse, I noticed an unusual waterfowl at the shoreline–a Brant. A Brant is a smaller cousin of the Canada Goose. This sighting was unusual not only because Brants are infrequent visitors to the Hudson Valley but also because of this one’s odd behavior. As I walked by, the solitary bird did not flee even though I passed within a few yards. Yesterday, four days later, this individual was still here. It allowed me to approach within 20 feet, and I snapped a photo. Since it didn’t flee, I assumed it was ill or injured. A concerned bird watcher, who also noticed the Brant in recent days, wondered if there wasn’t an animal rescuer that might take care of it. He worried that in it’s helpless condition the Brant would be easily caught by a predator like a fox or bald eagle. They have to eat too, I suppose, but the most common predator along the lighthouse trail is the domestic dog. An unleashed dog could chase it down and maim it but wouldn’t make a meal out of it like a “natural” predator. I called around for a wildlife rehabilitator, and spoke with Ellen Kalish of Ravensbeard. She asked me to catch it and bring it to her for care. “How do I catch it?” I wondered. “Get between it and shoreline and throw a blanket over it,” she instructed. Yesterday evening, when I set out to capture the Brant, it was nowhere to be found. This morning, I saw the Brant again along the same stretch of shoreline where I’d seen it before. Later, I returned with a blanket. As soon as I took up position between the bird and the shoreline, it took off and made a short flight along the shoreline, landing about a hundred yards away. It didn’t seem injured. At any rate, it wasn’t going to let itself get caught. The solitary Brant wasn’t so helpless after all.

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