I caught a Herring Gull

A large pool of water outside of Oslo's new central library

Monday was my first day back in work after a three-week vacation. Luckily for me, it was quite an easy day and my time in work was largely uneventful.

The same couldn’t be said about the trip home.

Since it was a nice, sunny day, I decided to walk home. It’s maybe a 45 minutes walk. I got no further than the new central library, less than 10 mins away from the office, when my plans changed.

I passed the library and reached the new stretch of water that has been carved out of the ground in front of the library. Or, as I like to call it – since it’s almost always occupied by our feathered friends wetting their feathers – “the new seagull swimming pool”.

There were two men sat on a bench chatting and in front of them was a herring gull (Larus argentatus) hobbling around and failing to use one leg properly.

Since I have a history of helping seagulls, I jumped into action. I went over to the bird to check it out. It was initially as curious in me as I was about it, but I needed to find some food to keep it’s attention.

I asked some girls nearby for the leftover crumbs from their pastries and lured the bird in, close enough to grab hold of it and catch it.

A big and strong bird like this did not appreciate a human touch. It instantly started squawking, attempting to flap it’s wings, and darting it’s head about to bite and peck me.

Onlookers were confused about seeing a man catch a seagull. No doubt very curious as to what I planned to do with it. My immediate next step was to find a box to transport it home in. I slipped the bird under my arm and walked over to a nearby cafe to ask the staff to find one.

“I’ll get you something for your face, too”, the lady said. “What’s wrong with my face?!”, I asked, surprised. “It’s bleeding”, she told me.

It turns out, as well as managing to peck my arm a few times, the bird got my face once too. Nothing too serious – just a scratch – but enough to draw blood.

A herring gull sat in a cardboard box

So, now I had a bird in a box and had cleansed the few wounds with anti-bacterial cleansers, which are now readily available everywhere as Oslo settles into life post-COVID-19. What next?

I sat on the steps of the train station and called some local veterinary practices recommended by the national bird activist charity FugleAdvokatene. Unfortunately, at the end of the day on Monday, everyone was either too busy or closed. And so the seagull was coming home with me until the next day.

A store room in my apartment block became the overnight accommodation for the bird. Come Tuesday, the following day, I called around the veterinary practices once more and Dyrlege Elisabeth Blom was able to make time to see the seagull.

And that’s where we got these two cool x-ray scans:

The second x-ray clearly indicates that the bird has a fractured bone in it’s leg. However, it wasn’t a fresh break and so has already started to heel. With a break that has already started to heel, there isn’t much you can do with it.

And so, with that information, it seemed the best thing to do was just return the bird back to where I had found it.

The bird went back inside the box, I hopped on the bus and headed downtown to the same spot I caught it from – the new seagull swimming pool.

Opening a box and pulling out a bird was apparently just as shocking to people passing by as me catching a bird and putting it in a box. When I released it, the gull swam to the middle of the water and enjoyed cleaning itself of the human touch.

It looked happy enough, and I was happy that I had it checked out. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to do. But fortunately, it will live to see another day. And hopefully another 30 years.

Did you know Herring Gull can live that long?

The seagulls need humans to be friendly to them right now. Especially since there seems be a bunch of Norwegians who hate them enough to glue them to the ground.

Did you know they are also considered an endangered species?

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