It turns out it matters what colour you are if you are a seagull in New Zealand, and I’m talking beak colour.
There are three types of seagull in New Zealand – as far as I have determined – yellow beak big ones, red beak and black beak. I am not sure which colour makes you the most important but *spolier* it’s not red.
Today on my way to work a seagull was sitting on the grass next to the footpath. It didn’t make any attempt to move when people walked past so I knew something wasn’t right. I went to touch the bird and it did move, and then I noticed that both of its legs were out behind it and it was “sitting” on its belly. There was no way it could fly away as it could not push off the ground with its legs.
I called the Department of Conservation (DOC) hotline for injured wildlife.
“Do you help seagulls?”
“What kind is it?” they asked
“One of the ones with the red beak and red legs.”
“No, try the SPCA”.
I then had to find the number and call the SPCA “No we don’t, try DOC.”
“I just called them, they said to call you.”
“Tell them that you are in Dunedin, the Dunedin branch helps those kind.”
I called DOC back again and the lady didn’t sound very interested, I explained how the SPCA had said that the Dunedin branch helps them so therefore I had called back. She asked if I could take the bird to the office – no, not without wrangling into my cardigan and carrying across busy roads and a few blocks. She logged a job with them and said that they would call me back and instructed me to call the Dunedin office myself also. I did. They were shut.
Just as I was hanging up a young man appeared. He asked if the bird was hurt and, as if to demonstrate that yes it was, it scooched awkwardly across onto the footpath. I told him the saga and he said that his mum had helped lots of injured seagulls out so he would take it home. He threw his jumper over the bird and said he would head home to feed it up on cat food. After declining a ride he was gone, bird in arms.
DOC did not call me back until almost 40 minutes later when I was at my desk. I would have been late for work, and would have stood on the side of the road for close to an hour. When I told them that the bird had been taken by the kind boy the woman said “It probably won’t heal.” “He will make it comfortable anyway.” I replied. I know your game DOC, you would take my injured bird and kill it without letting it rest on a nice bed scoffing cat food before it goes! At least it got taken in by a family that cares, even if its days are numbered, not left on the side of the road for hours by the organisations supposed to help creatures.