North Carolina

This bird in NC swallowed a huge hook — and survived. But how do you get it out?

Skywatch Bird Rescue

A Laughing Gull, known for its laughing call along the coastlines, is only about 16 inches in length, experts agree. The larger hooks for saltwater fishing are between two and three inches.

Yet one of those birds in North Carolina managed to swallow such a hook — and survive.

Skywatch Bird Rescue posted the harrowing tale on Facebook Wednesday: a squat seagull was brought in three days ago after she was rescued from fishing line. Rescuers conducted an x-ray, which uncovered what was left in her belly.

“The finders cut the line that was coming out of (her) mouth and luckily did not release her, but brought her in,” Skywatch said in the post. “X-ray revealed that unfortunately she has swallowed a very large fishing hook.”

The rescue organization thinks it may be a deep-sea fishing hook.

Sometimes birds that swallow smaller hooks will survive without human intervention, according to the rescue group. In fact, they’re often better left alone, barring they can still digest food.

Skywatch said the bird’s body will form an encasing around the hook known as a “Granuloma” — a sort of defense mechanism in which the body walls off foreign invaders, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“Gulls can live normally and successfully in many cases,” the rescue group said in its post.

But not this time.

Skywatch Bird Rescue

Skywatch said the hook in this Laughing Gull is “just enormous,” so letting the body cope naturally “is not an option.” Instead, they said she will need surgery.

It’s a high-risk procedure, the rescue organization told McClatchy news group on Wednesday.

“The hook is so large and birds like gulls are very small and delicate and do not always survive invasive surgery,” Skywatch said in a message sent through Facebook.

But the size of the hook is impeding her movements, meaning an operation is paramount.

Skywatch is still waiting to hear back from the vet for the day of the surgery. In the meantime, it is accepting donations on its Facebook page to cover the cost.

“She will ultimately die if she does not get the surgery,” the group said.

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Hayley is a Real Time reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking news and trending stories in the Carolinas. She also created the Observer’s unofficial bird beat (est. 2015) with a summer full of ornithological-related content, including a story about Barred Owls in love.