By Lisa Kashinsky Staff Writer
Jan 5, 2018
LAWRENCE — Christine Comforti had barely been at work for a half-hour Friday when she looked outside the window of her Marston Street medical office and saw a bird that looked like it was struggling to fly.
“He was standing on two feet trying to fly and he just kept face-planting over and over in the snow,” Comforti said.
It was unlike anything Comforti had seen before, awkward and painful to watch, she said. The bird, a great blue heron, finally mustered the strength to lift itself into the air, reaching about three feet near the Merrimack River, before falling back into the deep snow from Thursday's storm, Comforti said.
Comforti jumped into action, pulling on the boots she'd taken off minutes before, and running outside with a blanket. Jeannette Mercado, a co-worker at Boston Eye Group, followed her to help.
“I was crying. I was like, 'I can't leave him here. I can't watch him die,'” Comforti said.
The heron was a frightening sight. Encrusted in ice from its feet to its beak, the bird was “completely an icicle,” she said.
At first, the struggling bird looked like it was going to attack Comforti. But once she managed to wrap the bird's face in the blanket, she said it seemed to understand she was trying to help.
“It hurt to see him hurting,” she said.
Comforti and her co-workers got the bird inside their office and quickly went to work thawing it out with blankets and space heaters. Comforti, who has no experience caring for birds, chipped ice off the heron with her own hands to avoid burning the bird with the heaters. She cleared the bird's beak so it could open its mouth, and removed ice from the bird's talons and the back of its legs.