Injured bird rescue in Manistique Township turns out to be a heron species rare to Upper Michigan

A young yellow-crowned night heron was discovered in Manistique Township.
Photos of a rescued fledgling yellow-crowned night heron in Manistique Township, Michigan.
Photos of a rescued fledgling yellow-crowned night heron in Manistique Township, Michigan.(Eva Burrell Animal Shelter)
Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 5:31 PM EDT
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MANISTIQUE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLUC) - UPDATE: An injured bird rescue in Upper Michigan became a bit historic, as the bird species was one that was last documented in the Upper Peninsula more than 80 years ago.

A young yellow-crowned night heron was discovered in Manistique Township recently.

According to Petrina Storm, the Kennel Manager at the Eva Burrell Animal Shelter in Manistique, the yellow-crowned night heron is considered an endangered species, but is somewhat common in southern coastal areas with cypress swamps, mangroves, bayous and streams. The National Audubon Society says the bird eats mostly crustaceans, but will also dine on mollusks, frogs, insects and fish.

Storm says the fledgling heron, now known as “Blue," was discovered by shelter volunteer, Paul Rochna, while walking his dogs along Krummich Road.

Rochna said it appeared one of the bird’s wings was injured, so he gently put the heron into a small pet carrier, getting pecked by the bird in the process.

After that, the heron was transported to Dr. Renee Coyer, the veterinarian and owner of Upper Peninsula Veterinary Service in Cooks. Coyer examined the bird and determined it had a broken wing.

In order to better help the heron, Storm says many agencies and individuals stepped in. This included biologists, the animal shelter, veterinarians and a rescue center named With Feathers, located in downstate Levering.

After its check-up with Dr. Coyer, With Feathers worked to arrange transport to its downstate facility, and once there, a biologist became very interested in the bird, Storm said. The biologist said the yellow-crowned night heron hadn’t been documented in the Upper Peninsula since 1939.

After a more thorough look-over at With Feathers, the biologists and veterinarians believe Blue sustained an injury in his young life and had never flown. They say he won’t ever fly either. But, Blue will now live at With Feathers, where he will get to help educate others about the yellow-crowned night heron, Storm said.

After this entire event, Storm and Rochna believe this is a great example of working together with others who have common interests.

“All of this is just part of a bigger picture," Rochna said. "Manistique is a great area for the outdoors and it’s a wonderful place for conservation with an abundance of wildlife. Stewardship is what comes to mind for me. Living here is a privilege and being able to help out in a few small ways pays us back in dividends that we never can imagine. Perhaps we’ll see more birds like this is the future.”

Click here to learn more about the yellow-crowned night heron.

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