Girl helps save bird in distress in Galion


Addison VanTilburg of Bellville smiles at a chipping sparrow she was able to help save Monday in Galion.

A love of animals and a determination to not allow a living thing to die led a Bellville girl to take extra measures to save a chipping sparrow’s life Monday afternoon in Galion.

Addison VanTilburg, who is entering the fifth grade at Bellville Elementary this fall, and her mother, Amy, were visiting Goodwill in Galion following a sleepover at a cousin’s house in Crestline.

“We were outside and she told me, ‘Mom, I hear something,” Amy said. “It was hard faint at first, but it became louder.”

Shortly afterwards, the family saw it.

“It was perched on the top of tubing below a storm drain in the parking lot,” Amy said. “We noticed other birds who came to see what was happening.”

And quickly, Amy realized that her daughter wasn’t ready to leave.

“She was determined and said she wasn’t leaving,” Amy said.

“It would have died without help,” Addison added.

Quickly, others got involved and wanted to help.

The family called police and officers John Bourne and Josiah Bauer arrived on the scene to help.

“Officer Bourne asked me to go down in case there was something we can do and we noticed that the girl was bawling,” Bauer said. We lifted the storm grate and estimated that it was a six foot drop down there. I jumped down, picked up the bird and put it on a tote. It was a little unusual, but we understand that we’re there for the community and helping a little girl who was in distress was part of our role as a community servant.”

Amy said one of the officers jumped into the drain and was able to pick the bird up in a glove and the family placed the bird for safekeeping.

Addison said she was happy for the help of the officers.

“They were my heroes,” she said.

Amy shared that Addison has had a tough time since the death of her father, Ben, three years ago and is sensitive about death.

The family transported the bird to Wildlife Haven, a non-profit rehabilitation center in Crestline.

“We take in about 700 animals per year,” Director Jane Schnelker said. “We’re open to taking care of them.”

Addison, an animal lover, said she was happy to help.

“I’m excited I was able to get it out of there,” she said.

Amy said they were able to talk to Schnelker about the bird, who is 12 days old, on Tuesday and was able to visit for the first time on Wednesday.

Addison was excited to see the bird again.

“I call him Mr. FluffyMcPufferPants,” she smiled. “(The bird) is a little puffball.”

Schnelker said the bird should be OK.

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