Youngster summons resources to aid injured bird

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Vivian Reed, left, is seen here with friends Savannah Pittman and Caroline James, next to a cage where an injured purple martin received tender, loving care.

Vivian Reed, left, is seen here with friends Savannah Pittman and Caroline James, next to a cage where an injured purple martin received tender, loving care.

By Vivian Reed, Age 12 | Special to the County Compass

ORIENTAL — On Saturday, July 14, while visiting with my Grandparents in Oriental, I came upon an injured purple martin in our yard.

Having cared for injured birds before, I knew to place the bird inside a box. After researching on how to care for a martin, my Dad cut air holes in the box while my Grandfather, an equine veterinarian, inspected the bird, finding a damaged wing. He also felt its keel (chest) to see if it was hungry. (If so, its chest would be protruding.)

Finding its chest to a fullness, my Grandfather then felt its legs and feet, to be sure they were warm. (If not, then the purple martin might have been in shock, or suffering from hypothermia.) After finding its legs and feet to be warm, we placed a shirt underneath the bird for further warmth and comfort, and let it rest for the night.


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The next morning, my mother took the martin to the local vet clinic where Dr. Sherri Hicks noted that the bird had a puncture wound in its left wing. Returning home, our neighbors, the Pittmans, provided a birdcage and cared for the bird as we were out.

One of these purple martins (unidentified) can now frolic around a bird house in Oriental thanks to full-fledged resuscitation effort orchestrated by Vivian Reed.

One of these purple martins (unidentified) can now frolic around a bird house in Oriental thanks to full-fledged resuscitation effort orchestrated by Vivian Reed.

Attempting to feed the bird, they gave him seeds, bread, worms, and even chick feed. However, the bird rejected all of this. We gave him water from an eyedropper, but he turned it down. Things were not looking good!

Finally, I went on the computer and found that purple martins are insectivores, which means they only eat flying insects. On the long list of insects, one was dragonflies. Fortunately, dragonflies were plentiful in my Grandmother’s garden. I was hesitant to kill the dragonflies, but I knew it was necessary to keep the purple martin alive. With great relief, we watched as the bird quickly devoured the insects. He began drinking water out of the eyedropper as well!

After several feedings, I noticed that the martin would expand its chest and feathers as well as chirp. After further research, I found that this was a sign of joy and contentment. What a relief! On the third day, as my mother opened the cage door to feed the martin, he hopped out and flew to the purple martin house, where his family greeted him joyfully. This martin rescue was, by far, the most satisfying and exciting experience I have ever had with an injured bird.

Many thanks to those who helped save this bird’s life: Mrs. Sue and Gabriella, for providing the chick feed; Mr. Bob and Mrs. Claire Pittman, for helping care for the bird; my Mother, Grandmother, and brother, Gabe, for helping me feed the martin; my Dad, for preparing the bird’s recovery home; my Grandfather, for caring for and inspecting the martin; Dr. Sherri Hicks for taking the time to examine the bird; The Outer Banks Wildlife and Fisheries, for checking in on the bird.

Editor’s note: Thanks so much to our young correspondent for her well-written and heart-warming story.

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