Man sees dark spot out on the lake and then knows it's alive

EagleHeadline | Jun. 29, 2017

What started out as a leisurely day on the lake for Italian kayaker Massimo Barberi soon turned into a rescue mission to save the life of a drowning animal.

Barberi was heading back to shore after paddling around Lake Comabbio, in northern Italy, last week when he noticed a dark spot on the water off in the distance. The sun was just beginning to set, and Barberi couldn't quite make out what it was, so he decided to paddle nearer to take a closer look — and it's a good thing that he did.

"As I approached, I saw it was a lifeless bird," Barberi told The Dodo. "Her body was completely submerged."

It seemed, at first, that the animal had already perished, but then Barberi noticed something that gave him hope. The bird's beak was actually protruding from the surface — and she was still gasping for air!

"Each breath produced small circular movements in the water," he said.

Barberi wasn't sure if he should intervene somehow, or if it would be better to let nature take its course. Looking back, he said he's fortunate to have chosen to help.

"I took my paddle and retrieved the bird, using it like a spoon," Barberi said. "I put her on the bow of the kayak and I paddled to the shore."

The bird, thought to be a red kite, didn't struggle as they made their way back to dry land; instead, she simply stared at the man who was saving her life, her mouth agape as if in disbelief.

Once back at shore, near a campsite, Barberi watched the bird cough water from her lungs. While other campers called for help, Barberi used a towel to dry her feathers.

She never stopped staring.

Barberi had hoped to find a wildlife rescue clinic where he could then take the bird, but unfortunately, all those nearby had closed up for the night. He was able to speak with a veterinarian, who recommended that the bird be given food and water, and kept secure until she could be brought in the next day.

The bird, however, had other plans.

By the next morning, the animal who had been found on the verge of death had more than regained her strength. When one of the campers, who was assisting Barberi in the rescue effort, opened the box containing the bird to give her water — she made a break for it.

"With great energy and unexpected vigor, she flapped her wings and earned her freedom!" Barberi said.

While it's unclear exactly how the bird ended up almost drowning in the lake, there's no doubt that the actions of Barberi and the campers helping him are the reason she's alive today.

"We are all very happy," Barberi concluded. "It's a joy knowing she has her freedom."

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