Parker Ince of Jamesport was driving down County Road 105 on his way to work last Tuesday morning when a low-flying mass of white feathers caught his eye.
Just below the bridge over the Peconic River, he saw a swan slam into a tree. He figured the bird would shake itself off and be fine. So he kept driving, but something didn’t feel right.
“It was really nagging me as I drove by,” said Mr. Ince, who works in the media office for Islip Town. “After a couple miles, I turned back.”
He might not have know it at the time, but Mr. Ince was about to save the swan’s life. When he reached the bird, he saw that its right wing was completely entangled in a branch and it was unable to free itself.
He called around to local police departments and was put in touch with the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons in Hampton Bays, which dispatched a volunteer to help. Andra Douglas of Hampton Bays and her friend Linda arrived on the scene with a ladder and saw in hand.
Ms. Douglas thought the swan might be dead already.
“It was just hanging by the wing,” she said. But using the tools, Ms. Douglas, Mr. Ince and his father, John, who came to help, were able to free the swan. The younger Mr. Ince said the swan was totally docile throughout the ordeal.
“It was just in shock,” he said.
Ms. Douglas, who was only on her second-ever swan rescue call, wrapped the bird in a sheet and brought it to the Hampton Bays center about 10:30 a.m.
“It was quite an event,” Ms. Douglas said. “I still cant figure out what made the bird crash.”
More than 24 hours later, the rehabilitation center’s staff said the swan was eating and drinking without a problem. His wing was still drooping, but it appeared as though it only suffered some minor bruising, said hospital supervisor Stacy Earl. If all goes according to plan, the swan will be released into the wild.
“If there is no nerve damage, he could be out fairly quickly,” Ms. Earl said. Ms. earl said the center commonly takes in injured swans — it has about five or six right now and recently returned a swan to the wild that had been shot by an arrow — but she can’t ever remember a bird injuring itself by flying into a tree.
Mr. Ince might have been three hours late for work that day, but he said he didn’t mind cashing in some sick time to save a life.
“If Parker hadn’t seen the bird crash, I don’t know if anyone would have spotted him under the tree,” Ms. Douglas said.