Good Samaritans come to rescue of distressed bird at Fenney Nature Trail

Good Samaritans came to the rescue of a distressed bird found on the Fenney Nature Trail in The Villages.

Marcine and Bernie Eisenfeld, of the Village of Duval, on Thursday were walking on the trail in the Village of Fenney with their daughters, Sara Eisenfeld of Portland, Ore., and Sue Eisenfeld, of Arlington, Va. along with Neil Heinekamp, of Arlington, Va., when they came upon another couple who had discovered the bird that was clearly in distress.

This group pulled together to help a distressed bird found in the Village of Fenney.

The anhinga appeared to have string tied around its beak, which it could not open.

Sue Eisenfeld called a wildlife agency and a wildlife rescue volunteer, who suggested getting a blanket to help capture the bird. Sara Eisenfeld kept the bird within view while Heinekamp got a tablecloth from the Fenney Recreation Center. They captured the bird, which seemed tired from its stress and did not try to fly away.

Another Good Samaritan got a pocket knife from his car, and Sue Eisenfeld got a pair of scissors from the recreation center. Heinekamp, who recently retired from running a nature center in Virginia for 27 years, cut away the material from the bird’s beak. It took about 20 minutes. Sara Eisenfeld held the bird still. She said she could feel its heart beating. 

Neil Heinekamp removes the material from the bird’s beak.

The material seemed to be dense white cotton or polyester, as if from a rag mop. More of that white material was spotted in the pond.

Once the material was removed, Heinekamp picked up the bird and carried it back to the pond where the group observed it swimming, eating, preening and drying its wings.

The anhinga dries out his wings after the rescue.

“Upon entering this beautiful nature trail, we immediately see a bird injured and near dead from pollution. It shows how devastated nature is from all this development,” said Sara Eisenfeld.

The wildlife volunteer seemed to respond knowingly on the phone, remarking that birds are often found with fishing line and other trash that humans leave behind.

The rescue was emotionally moving for all those involved, who worked as a team to help this bird avoid an untimely death.