A Bird Story – by Captain Mike

Franklins Gull

[Note: This is a true story about an incident that happened to my captain several years ago, while he was at work in the Gulf of Mexico. Captain Mike is my husband; he is a helicopter pilot. He wrote this as an e-mail letter, and shared it with our family and friends. I got permission to re-print it on my blog because I thought it would touch others the way it touched me. Pastora Covert]

Hi there,

Yesterday I was out flying people to the oil rigs in my helicopter. As I came in for a landing at the platform called North Padre Island 956, I noticed a small flock of Franklin’s Gulls on the deck. Franklin’s Gulls have a black head and tail, black legs, gray wings and a white body. On *short final, they all flew off except one.

The one that didn’t fly away looked like it had a broken left wing. The end of the wing was sticking straight up instead of being folded back on its side. It was like if you put your left hand out in front of you and then touch your left ear and then move your hand back to the middle of your back.

Anyway, when my passengers got out of the helicopter, the bird panicked and hopped off the side of the Heliport. We thought that it spun out of control, 150 feet down into the ocean below, and was now fish food.

When we walked down the stairs to the deck below, we found that the strong wind that we were having, had blown the Franklin’s Gull under the heliport on to the deck below, instead of over the side.
I was looking at this poor bird and said Lord, I pray that you will heal this bird or put it out of its misery. If a bird can’t fly, then over time, it will just starve to death on an oil platform. I got up and walked behind the bird and crouched down. I saw that its left wing had some blood on it at the half way-point where it was bent like an elbow. I gently put my right thumb and forefinger on the sides of its neck to hold it, and it didn’t try to peck me. It just let out a sad little squeak. I pulled the left wing tip out and forward to feel if the wing was broken. I was quite amazed to see that it went back into its normal place. Somehow this bird had got its wing forward and behind its neck and the wing feathers got stuck in between the layers of feathers of its neck. It couldn’t get its wing out as it was going against the lay of its neck feathers.

Seeing this, I let the Franklin’s gull, loose. It hopped away about 20 feet. It stayed there for another 5 minutes and then took off and flew away without any noticeable problems.

I’m glad that I was able to “chiropractor” its wing back into place so it could live, instead of having to “chiropractor” its neck to mercifully end its life. I was also glad to help a fellow Aviator.


*short final = the helicopter’s short final approach

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