Addison watch the swans swim quickly across the pond through her binoculars. They kept their 5 babies close to them and moved with intention towards the opposite shore. One of the babies kept getting behind the rest, and the parents kept nudging it forward. She wasn’t sure what had spooked them, but they seemed to be in a hurry to get out of the water.
Leaning against the metal bar over the bridge that went between the pond and the river next to it, she drew in a deep breath, let her binoculars drop to her chest as they hung around her neck, and sighed. She’d driven for over an hour just to be able to see the swans, and now they were going away.
Movement to her left caught her eye. Looking up, she watched an eagle flying above her, then watched in horror as it swooped down into the water and grabbed one of the baby swans. It was the one that had trailed behind.
The swans went crazy, making their trumpet sounds as they flapped their wings and tried to go after the eagle. It was too late. The eagle flew off and landed in a nearby tree, the baby clutched firmly in its talons. Addison lifted the binoculars up to the tree the eagle was in. It had the little cygnet on the branch, with the talons slightly loosed as it prepared to enjoy its meal. Quickly, she looked away. She didn’t want to see the swan become a meal.
Turning back to the swans, she found the parents still frantic and heading to the shore where the eagle was in the tree. The babies followed and were soon led into some nearby bushes where they could hide. One swan stayed close to the 4 remaining babies, while the other approached the tree with the eagle. Addison couldn’t bring herself to glance up at the eagle to see if it was finished with its meal.
One of the swans stood at the bottom of the tree and made a lot of noise at the predator. The predator ignored the swan at first, but the sound of a crow made her look up with the binoculars to see what was going on. A group of crows had found the eagle and were attacking it. The cygnet fell from the talons as the eagle tried to defend itself.
Addison tried to find the baby on the ground with her binoculars, but it was too far away. Lowering the binocs back to her chest, she hurried across the bridge towards the shoreline where the tree was. When she got closer, she put her binoculars up and found the adult swan nudging the baby with its beak. It didn’t move.
After a few moments, the bigger swan returned to its partner and other babies. She made her way to the bottom of the tree and looked down at the small cygnet. It was bloody and appeared lifeless. Her heart sank. She was just about to walk away, when it made a tiny noise. Looking down, she realized the bird was still breathing.
Addison tried to think of what to do. The bird needed help. It might not be able to be saved, after all, it had taken a nasty fall and been injured by the eagle’s talons. Still, perhaps there was a chance it could be. She couldn’t just let it die. Carefully scooping it up in her hands, she headed back down the shoreline and across the bridge towards the parking lot. Reaching her vehicle, she used her phone to call her friend Stephanie, a local wildlife rehabilitator. A moment later, she had the cygnet resting on her sweatshirt in the back of the car as they headed towards the rehab facility.
Every spring, baby animals such as birds are commonly found by people. Some need assistance, some don’t. For more information on helping a baby bird if you find it, visit: https://ny.audubon.org/birds-0birdsways-help/what-do-injured-or-orphaned-bird