The Mystery of The Oily Blue Heron


(By Kim Ryan) Fort Myers Beach Naturalist Ranger Rob (Robert Howell) assisted in getting this Great Blue Heron the help it so desperately needed. The bird covered beak to tail in oil was first seen by a runner on the beach who approached workers on the dredging project for assistance. They contacted Robert.

Given that Robert has had rescue training from CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife), he was able to safely scoop the bird up and quickly take it to CROW, which is where the bird is now receiving medical care.

When asked about how this could have happened, Howell said the possibilities range from an oil spill, to the bird coming in contact with a boat, to the unthinkable of someone deliberately dousing it.

As far as the theory of a large oil spill Howell added, “It would be strange if there was a big spill. You would expect other animals to be affected, but so far the Coast Guard which did a search, did not find evidence of a spill and there have not been any other reports of other animals in this condition.”

Howell indicated this appeared to be a migratory Heron and when asked if this could have happened elsewhere he stated the bird, in its condition, was unable to fly and that the oil was fresh.

If you have any information please about what happened contact FWC Southwest Regional office 863-648-3200. If you find an animal in need of help, CROW’s Wildlife Hospital staff is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven (7) days a week, including holidays. Please call (239) 472-3644