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Starling saved: Volunteers rescue bird wedged deep into escalator on Orchard Road (Video)


A helpless starling bird’s cries echoed through Orchard Road after it got trapped in an escalator on Sunday.

Passerby Douglas Ong heard the desperate chirps from a juvenile Asian glossy starling whose legs had gotten stuck in an escalator along 270 Orchard Road at around 3pm on Sunday. 

“[W]e saw the bird flapping non-stop and the legs was stuck in the moving escalator. We were shocked and all we wanted to do is to save the bird and get it out,” Ong told Coconuts today.

The bird had gotten both of its feet caught in the teeth of the upward-moving escalator. Upon seeing it flap frantically, Ong quickly hit the stop button. 

He said the bird was bleeding “quite badly” and his beak appeared damaged. 

Upon closer inspection, he saw that the young bird had pierced the upper part of its beak, known as the upper mandible, with its lower beak while struggling to free itself.

Ong, who posted a video about the ordeal on TikTok yesterday, later managed to free one of the bird’s legs, but the right leg was stuck deep between the step tread and comb plate of the escalator.

He then called animal welfare group ACRES to come to the rescue.

ACRES volunteer Venkateshwaran “Waran” Veerasingam placed a towel over the bird’s head to calm it down. He tried using cooking oil as a lubricant on the leg but it would not budge.

Waran then used an allen key to unscrew the comb plate of the elevator and at last, the bird was free.

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The bird was taken to ACRES animal sanctuary in Choa Chu Kang where its beak was fixed and it was given pain killers.

An examination revealed that its right leg had been degloved, meaning the skin had been completely torn off, and the left foot had suffered multiple fractures.

Unfortunately, by morning, the bird had passed on.

The bird had most likely succumbed to stress, shock and blood loss, according to ACRES veterinarian Alicia Wee.

As juveniles, Asian glossy starlings have a brown upper-body and a fair, streaked lower body. As adults, they have shiny black-green plumage and piercing red eyes.

They make short, sharp calls — like the sound of a whistle — and congregate in large flocks to roost.

Asian glossy starlings were formerly considered a “pest species”, which means that they — like crows, pigeons and mynas – are not protected under the law and the authorities are at liberty to exterminate them.

After the introduction of the Wildlife Act in 2020, Asian glossy starlings were de-listed as a pest species and so are now protected by law.

@douglasokj If you come across any animal that needs rescue, you know what to do now #saveanimals #birdsoftiktok #douglasong ♬ original sound – Douglas Ong

Robin Hicks is a volunteer with the wildlife rescue group ACRES. 

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