"Chuck Will’s Widow" By Danniece Bobeche

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"Oh how I enjoy a dreary, rainy Sunday. Headed insanely early to HEB to grab a rack of baby backs and a juicy papaya to satisfy a craving. Arrived home, anticipating a lazy day, slow cookin’ and snugglin’ up to my Kindle, when I heard a loud flapping noise under my exterior stairwell. It was a bird, scooting around on the ground, unable to take flight. A BIG bird, maybe a falcon, hawk, not sure, with about a 2-3 foot wingspan. What to do?

After several phone calls, ten + texts and constant observation of the poor fledging bird, a couple of hours passed and it looked as if this poor creature was dying a slow, death pulling its wings in and starting to slowly close its
eyes. About the time I decided “final rites” were in order and helplessness settled as a lump in my throat, my neighbor reaches over to touch it. Talk about come to life; wings spread wide and a totally shreikish sound emitting from its throat, I knew there was hope.

Finally I connected with Guy Davis from the Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) in Port Aransas who was available to accept the bird for evaluation. But wait, “can you put it in a box” and bring it to Port A?, he asked. This thing is kinda vicious, not sure, I responded. Enter another concerned neighbor, she kindly brought over an animal crate but had other things to do. OK, I thought, I can do this. Strategic positioning of the cargo box and careful prodding with a broom was all it took. Put ribs in freezer, papaya on hold and headed to Port A, bird in tow.

When I reached the ARK, the bird seemed so lifeless, or maybe it didn’t enjoy my musical taste and thermostat control. Tony Amos was there to assess and determined there was no noticeable injury. He confirmed it was a female Chuck-Will’s Widow and told me that these birds are nocturnal and feed on insects. He assured me they would observe her for the next few hours and release her back into nature ASAP. According to Sibleys Guide to Birds, this is a part of the Goatsucker species also referred to as Nightjars. They fly around at night with their mouths open to feed on our pesky bug population. If we are lucky, she might possess the returning behavior of a pigeon and do a mouth wide open, fly by to gobble up a bit of our inevitable, post rain mosquito population.

I just spoke to Tony, he released her the same night at dusk in no apparent distress and she has now re-entered our environment. The ARK is a non-profit organization with the mission of rescue and rehabilitation of predominately injured birds and turtles. They deserve our respect and admiration; of course they appreciate donations and volunteers. More information can be accessed at www.friendsoftheark.org."

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