Wayward ibis finds shelter | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Wayward ibis finds shelter

Patrick McCartney

It was the night before Christmas when Tiffany Coonrod found a shivering bird outside her family’s front door at a Stateline motel.

Luckily for the weakened and lost bird, there was room at the inn.

“I knew it wasn’t from around here,” said 11-year-old Tiffany. “It was shaking, just lying on the ground shivering.”

Rodney Coonrod, Tiffany’s father, was indoors cooking a turkey when his daughter told him about the strange-looking bird. The colorful bird with a long, curved beak was too weak to fly.

“The bird landed on the porch during a snowstorm,” Coonrod said. “We wrapped him in a blanket and brought him inside. By the next morning, he had recovered enough that he was doing his bird calls.”

Coonrod, who does maintenance for the Tahoe Villa Motel, knew the bird didn’t belong at Lake Tahoe during a snowstorm. From a reference book, Coonrod identified it as an ibis, and called Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in Meyers for help.

On Christmas, the wildlife shelter’s volunteer staff took custody of the bird, identifying it as a white-face ibis.

“It was probably blown off course by the big wind in that last storm,” said Cheryl Millham, the shelter’s executive director. “He was cold and hungry. He was not a happy camper.”

Millham said white-faced ibises usually spend their summers in the area around Susanville and Alturas, Calif. before wintering in the wetlands near Sacramento.

“He doesn’t belong here,” Millham said.

Because the bird was in good health, a volunteer – Kelly Rutherdale – agreed to transport the wayward ibis to the wetlands near Sacramento Sunday, and released the bird.

The wildlife center saves a wild bird almost every week, Millham said. Right now, the shelter is nursing an eagle back to health after a run-in with a truck on U.S. Highway 395 near Bishop.

“It was eating road kill, got confused by an approaching truck and flew up and hit the windshield,” Millham said.

The eagle is recovering from a head injury, and will be released to the wild when it is fully recovered, she said.

Life is getting back to normal at the Coonrods, after the Christmas Eve rescue of the ibis.

Coonrod’s son, Chris, said the family kept its exotic guest in the bathroom, and offered it some bread and anchovies. The ibis ate some of the bread.

“Its feathers were purply and greenish, like a rainbow,” Chris said, adding that the whole family wanted to help the wayward bird. “We love cats and dogs, and mom always wanted a bird.”

At a glance:

Who: Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care

What: Rescues injured and orphaned animals

Phone: 577-2273


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