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Alberta photographers help injured great blue heron fly south

by Ace Damon
heron

Jeremiah Rodriguez, CTVNews.ca, with a report by Janet Dirks, Alberta Bureau chief

Published November 16, 2019 at 6:14 pm

TORONTO – Most migratory birds headed south in mid-November, which is why two good friends were concerned when they saw an endangered blue heron.

Allison Prentice and Guy Kinney were taking wildlife photographs in Airdrie, Alta. when they noticed the big blue bird. The heron's feathers were full of snow and ice.

"It looked like it tried to jump and fly but couldn't," Kinney told CTV News Calgary. "I could see something when he turned on his chest and it turned out to be a big ice cube."

The blue heron is the largest of its species in North America, and is common in Canada during the summer.

But as rivers and lakes freeze, these birds usually migrate south during winter. Spotting a blue heron at the end of the year is very rare.

“I doubt she got it, this one in particular. I saved a few others, this was by far the most injured, ”said Prentice.

Prentice and Kinney agreed that they had to capture the bird for it to survive. Prentice said it was "really surprising" that the injured bird didn't try to fly away from them.

The couple took the injured bird to a conservation center in Madden, Alta. And they said they caught him on time. According to the team, the female was suffering from severe hypothermia.

If she had not been brought in, "she probably would have died," Calgary Erin Caspar, manager of the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation Rehabilitation, told CTV News.

The bird spent a week recovering in the center and spent time in an incubator. Since the predicted temperatures were sufficiently mild, the decision was made to release it in Calgary.

The nature photographers were there for the farewell.

"I would be lying if I said I didn't bring a few tears to watch (her) slide (away)," Prentice admitted.

She smiled at the thought that the Blue Heron had sunny skies the day she began her journey south.

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