WALKERTON – The large bird had been hanging around the construction equipment in East Ridge Business Park, Walkerton, for a day or two when Matt Brownson noticed him.
Brownson was there to pick up some machinery for The Murray Group. He’s not the kind of person who could turn his back on a creature in desperate need of help, as the injured bird clearly was. He made several phone calls and was finally given the number of an animal rescue organization based in Oxford County.
Brownson, who lives in Kenilworth, arranged to meet a volunteer with the group half-way, but first had to deliver the machinery. He fed the large bird he called “Murray” his lunch – a meat sandwich – placed him on a large piece of equipment where he’d be safe and returned about an hour later with welding gloves. However, all Brownson needed to coax Murray into the double-sized recycling container was more summer sausage.
It would be wonderful to say this story has a happy ending, but it doesn’t. Murray succumbed to lead poisoning a few days after his rescue. But he died peacefully, not the victim of a coyote or other animal.
Lead poisoning has been identified as a concern for a number of bird species including bald eagles. That’s what Murray was – a young bald eagle, a magnificent species known to nest along the Saugeen River.
The source of the lead remains unknown, but other birds have ingested lead pellets and slugs, bullet fragments, and fishing sinkers, one reason hunters and fishermen have been urged to exercise caution and purchase non-toxic ammunition and sporting products.
While Murray didn’t make it, Brownson doesn’t regret making the effort to rescue him. His efforts were commended by his employer, and others who found out what was happening. It’s gratifying to know there are people who aren’t afraid to help a creature in distress, and there are places to turn to for help.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times