You never really know when nature is ready to teach you a lesson. I was sitting on my dock minding my own business when a cormorant attempting to land in a tree taught me an important lesson.
I was sitting on my dock in the morning drinking coffee. I had my camera at the ready to capture any wildlife that presented itself. Soon enough a cormorant flew by and went to land in a tree. This is commonplace as the cormorants and anhingas land in this tree every day at about the same time. The only extraordinary thing about this time was the crash landing.
Never before have I seen a cormorant fall out of a tree trying to land. As I watched him flounder around in the water I realized he was drifting in the current directly towards me. As I have never before witnessed a stoned out of his mind cormorant I thought it best to sit tight and see what happened.
As he came closer I realized his trouble was not drug induced. He had simply flown into the Spanish moss draped on the tree and became entangled. That explained all the floundering around in the water and the crash landing as well. As I watched him drift by attempting to extricate himself I realized just how tenuous life is to wild animals. Something as simple to us as a six pack ring or cigarette butt can become a trap. Even something as innocent as Spanish moss can be a problem. A carelessly discarded plastic bag or tangled length of fishing line could be disastrous to a creature and you would never know what hazardous your litter had been.
Moments after my cormorant friend had freed himself from the Spanish Moss and commenced to fishing, a group of three cormorants flew by with one of them trailing 6 feet of fishing line. I took that as a sign that I should take the time write the story of the cormorant and his crash landing to help people understand the struggle that wildlife faces.
Had the moss been fishing line the encounter would have proven fatal. I had seen this type of thing play out before. I once chased a distressed anhinga for several days with his beak sealed closed with an impaled cigarette butt. After several days he was weakened by hunger and I was able to capture him. Holding his wings with both hands I was forced to ring the doorbell of an unsuspecting homeowner with my elbow who removed the offending butt and the bird’s life was preserved.
It took that unusual partnership and some good fortune to save that creature from his terrible fate. It is easy enough to pick up our litter and protect the wildlife from the potential hazard. They are on their own with the Spanish moss.