When some people in England came across a bright orange bird on July 1, they assumed it must be an especially exotic animal. The bird was injured and unable to fly, so they took it to the Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital to be treated.
When the veterinarians first heard about the unusually-colored bird, they weren’t sure what to make of it. They took to Facebook to share some photos of the avian, and in the caption, they explained that upon closer inspection, the bird was not actually orange. Rather, it had somehow become covered in curry or turmeric:
“This is one of the strangest casualty circumstances we have seen in a while!” they wrote. “This bright-orange herring gull was rescued by kind members of the public who spotted him at the side of the A41. When they called to say they had picked up an orange bird, we had no idea what to expect – and would have never guessed at this!”
“He had somehow gotten himself covered in curry or turmeric!” they explained. “It was all over his feathers, preventing him from flying properly. We have no idea how he got into this predicament and thankfully, apart from the vibrant colour and pungent smell, he was healthy.”
They went on to explain that the seagull, now named Vinny after a Vindaloo curry, was as good as new once he was bathed and would be released soon.
In a post-bath photo, Vinny is back to being a white gull, though he still has a tinge of orange.
“As we say, we never know what will come through our doors next!” they wrote.
While no one knows how Vinny got into the spice cabinet, we’re glad that all’s well that ends well!
It’s Happened Before!
Though this sounds like a one-time situation, a similar incident occurred back in 2016 when a seagull fell into a vat of tikka masala and was brought to a center in South Wales. The gull, later nicknamed “Gullfrazie,” was trying to snag a bite to eat from a food factory bin when he fell in.
And believe it or not, it happened again just a couple of months later, in South Wales. Another seagull was sent to the same rehabilitation center, Vale Wildlife Hospital, with the same problem. It had fallen into a vat of tandoori sauce.
Seagulls have also been found in other disturbing places within the food supply. In British Columbia, Canada in 2016, more than 70 seagulls were found trapped in a vat of tofu by-product at Superior Tofu. The birds had been a persistent problem because they love eating the fibrous pulp left behind during tofu processing. The company had installed guard rails that, instead of keeping the birds out, kept them in once they had entered the facility.
The fact is, seagulls have learned to forage within cities and human developments, where ready supplies of food help them survive as their traditional habitat declines. Urban gull expert Peter Rock told the BBC that he estimates there are 100,000 breeding pairs of urban gulls across the U.K. So it’s possible that incidents like these will happen more often, as different gull species continue to come inland to find their meals.
What To Do If You See A Bird In Trouble
If you see a bird like this that seems in trouble, what should you do?
First, note that a bird sitting on the side of a road or on the ground may just be momentarily stunned or stressed out from a collision or other mishap. It may recover and then fly away on its own. So keep it outside but in a cool, safe area if you can, so it can leave if it wants to.
If the bird seems seriously injured and does not fly away after a few hours, you’ll need to get it to a wildlife rehabilitation center like Tiggywinkles. Use this list if you need a place to start.
Know that the rehabilitation center will probably not be allowed to tell you what happened to the bird after you relinquish it.
You should not try to treat the bird yourself. Also, do not feed it. Provide some water nearby if you want, but do not force it to drink or eat.
Another thing you should know is that baby birds are often accidentally kidnapped by people who think they’ve fallen out of nests or have been otherwise abandoned. So if you think you’ve seen a nestling or hatchling that needs help, the first thing you should do is make sure that is really the case.
Kudos to the animal lovers at Tiggywinkles for saving Vinny! While that color is gorgeous, given the circumstances — we hope it’ll be awhile before we see another orange seagull.