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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Firefighters Make Bird Rescue in Bowie

Media Contact: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

In addition to our normal responsibilities of fire suppression, providing emergency medical services, extricating patients from crash wreckage, bomb squad, hazardous materials, community affairs, trench rescue, inspections, marine operations and an all-hazards approach in providing the very best services to the citizens and residents of Prince George's County, the Fire/EMS Department has traditionally been the place to go when then is no one else to turn to for help.  This sometimes includes assisting animals that will help to prevent injuries to good samaritans.

The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department was recognized by the Humane Society of the United States with a 2010 Humane Civil Servant Award for services provided in rescuing animals.  We perform these rescues with some risk involved because we are trained and have the tools and resources to effect these rescues safely.  If the Fire Department did not make these rescues then invariably well intentioned citizens would attempt to make the rescue and risk injury to themselves and others.  Firefighter/Medics have previously made rescues of animals that have gotten themselves into situations where they needed our help.  Dogs falling into deep sewer drains and uncovered backyard wells,  removed cats from the ledge of a burning apartment building or from atop a utility pole and yes, occasionally the rescue of a cat from a tree.  But rescue a bird from a tree??

Friday morning, March 18, 2011, a citizen went to the Bowie Fire/EMS Station #843 in Pointer Ridge and described to firefighters that a bird was hanging from a string atop an approximately 40 to 50 foot tree.  The citizen stated numerous people were witnessing the heartbreaking event and many were visibly shaken by the sight of the distressed bird attempting to free itself.

At about 10:00 am, the combined forces of volunteer and career firefighters proceeded with an engine and tower ladder to the area of the BBT Bank in the 16400 block of Heritage Boulevard just off of Route 301 in a busy commercial area of stores, restaurants and professional buildings.  Firefighters saw the bird, about 40 feet up the tree and observed it was entangled with a string that was wrapped around a upper branch on the tree.  After discussing the safest course of action firefighters determined that the Tower Ladder could easily and safely reach the bird with little risk to the firefighters.  The Pointer Ridge Tower Ladder elevated the bucketed platform to a point where Volunteer Lieutenant George Joslyn could reach the branch and cut the string to free the bird.  The bird, a Common Grackle, had sustained injuries while trying to frantically free itself and could not fly.

The bird was brought down by Lt. Joslyn, much to the appreciation of the citizens that watched the rescue, and provided it to a member of the Fire/EMS Department's Citizen Services Unit (CSU).  CSU Steve Stearns placed the bird into an animal container and sought a facility that could care for the injured bird.  He made arrangements with the 4-H Center in Upper Marlboro and the Davidsonville Wildlife Sanctuary to accept and care for the bird.

According to the website www.allaboutbirds.org the Common Grackles are blackbirds that look like they've been slightly stretched. They're taller and longer tailed than a typical blackbird, with a longer, more tapered bill and glossy-iridescent bodies. Grackles walk around lawns and fields on their long legs or gather in noisy groups high in trees, typically evergreens. They eat many crops (notably corn) and nearly anything else as well, including garbage. In flight their long tails trail behind them, sometimes folded down the middle into a shallow V shape.

Yes, a bird in a tree was rescued and is likely to survive by the combined resources of Bowie Volunteer Deputy Chief Jonathan Howard, Fire Captain Greylind James, Fire Technician John Wilson, Volunteer Lt. George Joslyn, Volunteer Fire Fighter Tevin Williams and CSU Steve Stearns.  CSU Stearns is also a Volunteer Captain with the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department and was the person behind the camera on the video and images included in this story.  Perhaps a more significant impact was made upon those gathered to witness the event and their firefighters doing a job that no one else could as quickly and efficiently.  A job well done!!!

Tower Ladder 843, Pointer Ridge, ascends to reach a bird unable to free itself from a string and hanging 40 feet up a tree.

Bowie Volunteer Lt Joslyn works to free the trapped bird.

Volunteer Lt. Joslyn with the injured bird.

CSU Steve Stearns placed the injured bird in a animal cage for transport to a wildlife sanctuary.

"Thank You Firefighters for Saving My Life"