Nature Notes: Song of the murre

<I>MARSHA SPARKS photo</I>

Song of the murreBeautiful beyond description, glossy black-haired, sleek and proud, this young girl from "outside" the waves was lost from her family and lost to her tribe. Brought to us by visitors to these shores, she was a casualty of separation and migration. This spectacular young murre was weak and wandering and in real danger. Found on the sand, unable to defend herself, lonely and sick, she was living her last day.

Suffering from an algae sickness, she could no longer fish and feed herself. Not able to keep pace with her northward migrating family, she fell back and finally, mile after mile and day after day, she was lost to the incessant waves and face to face with the ultimate fate of all lost wanderers.

The voice of the wind as it whispered across the tops of the rolling whitecaps spoke to this young seagirl and something told her to swim for the sandy beach, a swim that for many seabirds ends in tragedy. But in the case of this beautiful young girl, it would be the beach of life.

It was not the violated, tire-marked, weary strand of beach that saved her, but the caring folks who found her. Driver after driver whisked pass, unconscious, uncaring and unaware.

A family out for a stroll along the ocean's margin came upon this little black beauty. Immediately recognizing her plight, they scooped her up into a towel, and she was instantly safe from tires and gulls and dogs.

A true beauty, fragile yet strong, tiny but resilient, this little warrior of a creature was saved to live another day, and with care, love and attention, plus lots of fish and medicine, she would live a long and productive life.

The problems she faced were manmade, and in this fortunate situation her salvation was also manmade. With a little luck we can expect to see more young murres to follow in her tracks. It only takes a moment to save them from disaster.

This young murre is a bellwether for all wild and fragile creatures. Possibly a bellwether for young girls as well. Tough, intelligent and sassy, under that hard exterior, a frail and delicate animal searching for the same thing as everyone else: love, trust and a safe place to live.

Her murre-song comes alive as she hears other young murres, and she sings clear and loud. Her family is out there somewhere looking for her as she searches for them, and she will follow that love wherever it leads her. We wish her the best, and godspeed darlin' - be most careful!

This one's for Blanco. Check out our new weekly nature movie at: (http://home.pacifier.com /~sparks/wildlife!!.html )

• Craig Sparks is director of NAWA, a filmmaker, freelance writer and wildlife rehabilitator.

• Found injured wildlife? Questions? Call the Wildlife Center at 665-3595 or send an e-mail to: sparks@pacifier.com.

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