Bird Found With Flip-Flop Around Neck

Great Blue Heron free from plastic shoe

By Chris Van Horne
|  Thursday, Mar 10, 2011  |  Updated 10:00 PM CDT
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A Great Blue Heron had been seen at the <a title=Fort Worth Botanic Garden with a blue flip-flop around its neck, but the shoe is no more." />

Chris Van Horne

A Great Blue Heron had been seen at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden with a blue flip-flop around its neck, but the shoe is no more.

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A lunchtime visitor to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden was found with a plastic flip-flop hanging from his neck.

Visitors noticed that the Great Blue Heron had the footwear on and alerted workers at the Japanese Garden.

The Great Blue Heron is better known to workers as "Gobbler," because he shows up around lunchtime looking to find a snack in the many koi ponds at the garden.

"He had an interesting, faded light-blue rubber flip-flop. The post had come out of the sole, and he was wearing it around his neck," said Steve Brooks, chief groundskeeper at the garden.

Pictures taken by gardener Mary Horvath on Wednesday showed that the flip-flop was hanging low around Gobbler's neck. But more importantly, it was hanging loosely

"We observed the bird doing things like fishing, preening and flying without causing problems," Brooks said.

Because of that, no action was taken to remove the flip-flop.

Officials also showed the pictures to an animal expert who said it would likely fall off while Gobbler fished. Thursday afternoon, it was gone.

"The show is gone," Brooks said. "He managed to free himself from it, and he should be safe for the time being."

Removing the flip-flop from Gobbler's neck wouldn't have been easy, Brooks said. Blue herons are known for going after their predators' eyes if they can't fly away. Darting or netting Gobbler would also have proved difficult, if not impossible.

Brooks said another blue heron got tangled in plastic about 20 years ago, but that was fishing line around a leg.

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