[Tweeters] Western Grebe Rescue

Carol Riddell cariddell at earthlink.net
Mon Nov 12 09:58:21 PST 2007

Hi Tweets,

Susie Schaefer and I spent the weekend birding from Kitsap County out
to Westport and then Ocean Shores. Sunday morning we went to the
Ocean Shores jetty about 8:30 a.m. We started down to the water's
edge to watch some Sanderlings and noticed a bird that looked
recently dead. As we approached it we could see that it was a live
young Western Grebe. We talked with a couple from Tri-Cities who had
been watching the bird on Saturday, trying to get back out in the
water but never making it and probably having no way to make it
through a third of a mile of huge breakers. They said the bird had
worked its way a couple of miles down the beach but was now at the
jetty. I would usually leave such a bird alone, but hearing that it
was not ill and seeing it try to reach deeper water when an inch or
two would surround it, we decided to attempt a rescue. I retrieved
my fleece car blanket and we got it over the bird, which remained
quiet. We checked out the jetty, but with the southwest winds
pushing the waves into the jetty, there were too many breakers, the
water level was fluctuating a lot, and the rocks were dangerously
slick. We ruled out an attempt to get the bird in the water there.
However, our little bundle was remaining calm so we opted for a ride
over to Damon Point where we knew the water would be calmer. We
walked down to the water's edge and opened the blanket. The grebe
fell on its back, let us know it was disgusted with our awkward
release, and then quickly righted itself. If you have ever launched
a kayak off a flat beach in very shallow water, you'll quickly get
the image of the bird pushing itself out to deeper water. As soon as
it was able to use its feet to propel itself, it headed out to where
there was a small flock of Surf Scoters and Buffleheads. We couldn't
see any other Western Grebes in the vicinity. We birded that area
later in the day and the grebe was still in the area, keeping
somewhat near the scoters. We'll never know whether it will survive
in the long run, but at least a dog won't get it and it won't starve
to death on the beach. Back at the jetty we saw two dead Western
Grebes on the beach.

Carol Riddell

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