OCEAN CITY– A recent storm brought a visitor from the Arctic to Ocean City.
Last Wednesday, following the storm that brought strong winds and rain to Delmarva, a Bishopville family pulled a tiny dovekie, a small black and white bird from the Arctic, out of the surf. After being saved from the waves and dried off, the bird returned to the skies, presumably to get back to its pelagic lifestyle.
“I feel lucky to have been in the right place at the right time,” said Caleb Miller, who found the bird. “Simply to have seen it and experienced that with my wife and kids, it was a really neat experience.”
Miller and his family took to the beach in Ocean City last Wednesday, eager to see what the waves had washed up during the previous day’s storm. Around 15th Street, Miller caught sight of something in the surf being bashed around a little bit. Thinking it was a black and white ball, he walked to the water’s edge to pick it up, only to find that it was a small bird. He brought it onto the beach and sat it down. He and his kids initially thought it was a baby penguin.
“It wasn’t until my wife got some pictures and we were able to pull it up on google image search that we realized what it was,” he said.
Miller was sure once he sat the bird on dry land it would shake its wings off and fly away. Instead, the seabird just rolled around on the sand. At that point, Miller used his shirt to dry the animal off and placed him in his jacket pocket.
A few minutes later he said the bird’s whole demeanor changed. By the time he sat the bird back down on the ground and started searching his phone for local bird rescues, the bird opened its wings and took off back into the sky.
“He decided to be on his way after we got him warm and dry,” Miller said.
Miller’s dovekie wasn’t the only one spotted on the shore following last week’s storm. Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research Inc. admitted four Dovekies, according to its Facebook page.
“We recently admitted four Dovekies for care, which is unusual, a post on the page reads. “Dovekies are a pelagic species, living nearly all their life far from land in the waters of the northern Atlantic Ocean. They nest in the Arctic on rocky cliffs or rocky islands within large glaciers, where they are protected from wind and predators.”
The rescue said that dovekies are sometimes found on the East Coast after strong winds push weakened birds toward land.
“After doing more research, we found out it’s pretty rare for people to see these birds,” Miller said. “They live on the ocean, they don’t live on land.”
He’s convinced that the dovekie he found wouldn’t have survived if it hadn’t been pulled from the waves and given some time to recover.
“It was neat to see an Arctic bird in our area,” he said. “It was interesting because after the bird took off we walked down the beach some more and we found some huge conch and welch shells. My daughter said that was our payment for helping the bird—the ocean left us some gifts.”