by Caryl Moll
I sat at the kitchen counter and put my head in my hands. I was distraught…
“Please Lord, can you help? I know it’s a small thing for you, but I feel so attached to this strange, wild bird. This is an impossible request I know, but you have said that ‘nothing is impossible for you’. Forgive my doubt with these things Father, but I really pray for a miracle for our dear ‘Seagull’. Please can you intervene? Seagull’s ankle is tangled up with fishing line. We are desperate to catch her, remove the entanglement and release her. Please Father…Is it possible somehow that you are able to cause the twine that is wrapped around her ankle to just disappear…? Or can you help me to catch her with our trap? Please Lord, I pray for a miracle for Seagull.”
I felt rather bashful putting this request to our mighty God. Aren’t there much more important matters for Him to hear? Why should my obscure little prayer be heard by the almighty Father of the Universe? I didn’t hold out much hope at all… I’d probably just have to accept Seagull’s horrible fate.
But God had other plans…
Two years ago a little Hadedah Ibis chick hatched in a nest in our neighbour’s big tree. We woke up, one day, to the most awful, grating screech – very unlike the usual Hadedah calls in our city. Fearing that the bird was caught up somewhere, I rushed out to investigate and potentially rescue it. The horrible vocalization drew me to the tree where the chick was perched. It was a real surprise to discover that there was nothing visibly wrong with her – except for the crazy vocalization.
We named the chick “SEAGULL”
The weeks that followed were extremely noisy. We had to endure some serious screeching emanating from the tree as her mom dutifully fed and cared for her. Soon Seagull was trying to fly. The odds were out as to whether she’d survive or not. We heard her antics constantly – often waking up to her screech in the morning and breathing a sigh of relief with the knowledge that;
“SEAGULL is alive!”
Over the months that ensued we followed (audibly and visibly) this strange bird’s progress. Her voice didn’t change but I worried about her ability to integrate into Hadedah society. In addition, her flying skills were hampered – she demonstrated suspect aerial manoeuvres and just managed to skirt electric fences around our neighbourhood. In addition, she sported badly ruffled feathers and mostly perched on only one leg.
For two years we watched Seagull mature and then amazingly she pitched up with a mate one day. Her looks improved too. Eventually, the two produced a chick of their own. For many months we followed their progress. Seagull was alive and thriving and retained her odd voice. (Most Hadedahs look similar, but this was Seagull’s unique quality which enabled us to follow her so closely) Quite simply…she was beautiful! SEAGULL became a permanent neighbourhood resident and often visited our garden for lunchtime foraging. I’ve taken tons of photos over the years.
Then on the 16th November, everything changed…
As usual, Seagull arrived on the neighbour’s rooftop that morning. This time, however, her distinct cry was absent. She arrived in silence. She was alone too – usually she came with her mate. I was very concerned and I grabbed my binoculars.
On closer inspection, I noticed the horrible mass of fishing line that was caught around her left ankle. Her voice, too, was almost non-existent. Was something stuck in her throat too? I knew that if the fishing line wasn’t removed, Seagull could lose her leg; a painful process; sadly an all-too-common occurrence amongst city birds. I called numerous bird rescue societies for advice. My only option was to set up a trap so we’d potentially be able to catch her and remove the shackle. But it was a really long shot – Seagull is a wild bird with a large home range.
We have a large green belt that runs through our neighbourhood as well as a pretty dam where some children fish. Unfortunately, many water birds get entangled with gut that has been left behind. It’s a jungle out there for our avian friends who have to battle all kinds of human encroachment. Add fireworks and parties to the mix. An ailing bird has small chance of survival!
Nevertheless I had to try something, so we set up a trap for Seagull in our garden – hoping that by some remote chance she may offer me the opportunity of catching her. Admittedly, I didn’t hold out much hope.
Then on Thursday last week a miracle happened…
I heard her familiar screech as Seagull flew in to land on the neighbour’s roof. Seagull’s voice was back. I ran for my camera and my binoculars. … Then I stared in awe…
THE ENTANGLEMENT ON HER LEFT ANKLE WAS GONE!
It was totally unbelievable. Jaw-dropping. How had this happened? Had God really heard my prayer?
To say that I am thrilled is an understatement! Yes, unfortunately Seagull has lost two toes during her ordeal (The last time I photographed her with all her toes was the 18 August 2020) but her injury has healed up nicely and isn’t affecting her in any way. She can perch well despite the missing appendages and looks vital too.
And…as if to show me more of how God had worked his miracle, she dropped into my garden, stood up in alertness and gave me her beady eye.
Oh how I love that bird!
I sit with my head in my hands…
“Thank you, Father, for hearing my small voice. Thank you for this incredible miracle. Forgive me for ever doubting you. You are our Father and you hear every thought in our heads – even the small ones. Thank you for hearing my cry. Thank you for rescuing our dear Seagull.”
I will always remember that it’s never ‘just a creature’ but rather…every creature is important in our Lord’s creation. We are their custodians…and we should take that seriously.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
With love, in Christ