Blue heron hits power line, loses wing

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, July 13, 2011

FRANKLIN—A great blue heron that lost a portion of its left wing after apparently flying into a Franklin power line continues to recuperate.

Franklin, a great blue heron, walks in a pool at Bear Path Acres Animal Education Center in Southampton County. The bird can no longer fly after losing a portion of its left wing.

Debbie Jeter, chief executive officer and founder of Bear Path Acres Animal Education Center in Southampton County, will keep the bird, which is in need of food and shelter.

“He’s quite a hefty eater,” said Jeter, who suggested that anglers donate fish they don’t want to keep.

“Like small bream,” she said. “Everyone likes to throw those back because they’re so small. They are perfect for him.”

The heron eats about two pounds of fish daily.

“He’ll eat any fish, frogs,” Jeter said. “He will eat almost anything, but fish is the most convenient. We can freeze it. He’s also eaten venison.”

In addition, $500 is needed to build a habitat for the bird, which has been named Franklin. Right now, the heron stays in a 10- by 10-foot cage.

Franklin Animal Control Officer Roy Richardson was notified about the injured bird on May 16.

“It was caught off Pretlow Street,” Richardson said. “I was walking through a field and it could not fly.”

“We believe it had flown into a power line and broke its wing,” he continued. “You see them flying from the pond on Morton Street to the Blackwater River.”

The next day he took the bird to Jeter.

“His initial intake evaluation showed a broken left wing,” she said. “He was treated with pain medications and antibiotics to prevent infection.”

Three days later, the bird underwent surgery at a Virginia Beach animal hospital. The veterinarian amputated a portion of the injured wing.

The bird will never fly again.

Two weeks ago, the heron came out of Bear Path Acres’ intensive care unit and is now in physical therapy.

“Once adjusted to his new surroundings, he will have to be moved to his own habitat,” Jeter said. “All of this takes funding.”

Bear Path Acres is also seeking financial help to pay the bird’s surgery bill. Donations are tax deductible.

Volunteers are also needed.

Jeter can be reached at 757-516-8774.