By Pranab Adhikari, College Data Analysis Intern

John with bird
John holding the rescued bird
Photo by Jessica Kravik


On the morning of July 22 at Fleet HQ on Nakoosa Trail, a juvenile mourning dove was spotted in the high rafters of the parts room, its life in immediate danger.  That Friday morning, Fleet employees saw the bird huddled against a window. The young bird was stuck; many birds get trapped in these types of areas because they don’t comprehend the difference between the window and the outside world. They can see outside but they often remain immobilized in that spot, frozen in place until they slowly starve and dehydrate to death (admittedly we are proud that we keep our massive windows in the facility clean enough to fool birds).

By coincidental good fortune that very area is manned by Fleet Parts Technician John Kraak, who has conducted thousands of wildlife rescues as a volunteer for the Humane Society as easily one of the most experienced and skilled animal whisperers in the state.  In an attempt to get the bird out, the team made it as dark as possible in the area and left the garage door open to encourage the baby bird to fly away to freedom. This went on for several hours with no luck. Our garage was about to be shut down for the weekend with nobody around, so if the mourning dove was left behind at close of business it would not make it.  This added to the urgency.

John has over fifteen years of experience performing animal rescues, many of them dangerous and dramatic, besides a variety of other volunteer activities you can read about here. He has saved and kept alive a variety of animals, from other birds such as bald eagles, to foxes, badgers, and coyotes. He keeps a trusty net, gloves for raptors, and something to transport the rescued animals (such as a blanket or animal carrier) in his personal vehicle at all times.

It was time to get more hands-on to solve the problem.  John gathered a net, a long pole, and a ladder to conduct a technical rescue.  Climbing the ladder and using the net, he scared the bird out of the corner in which it was stuck. He maneuvered the net so that it was flat and the bird would step onto it. Once the mourning dove was on, he flipped it into the net. John climbed down and carefully removed it from the net, conducted a quick physical exam and concluded that the bird didn’t have any broken bones. The bird was a little underweight, but it seemed to have enough energy to be released back into the wild.  So John walked over to the end of the Fleet parking lot and freed the bird on the ground in a shaded area beneath the bushes so that it could find food and recover. John’s expertise here is appreciated and we hope to keep all the wildlife we come across as safe as possible.  He is planning to retire in a few months, and will be missed.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Fleet Service and a link back to the original post.

Category: Our Team