- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2003

Some trees in the District are so full of litter that firefighters are having to stage rescues for birds and other small animals that get stuck in the tangled, high branches.

“I wouldn’t say it’s commonplace, but it happens rather frequently,” said D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesman Alan Etter, hours after a Monday morning bird rescue across from Constitution Hall on 18th Street NW.

“It’s not just birds,” Mr. Etter said. “We get raccoons stuck up there, too.”

A young starling was the latest to be snared. Stuck in old kite string wrapped around a high branch, the stranded bird attracted a small crowd outside Constitution Hall at 11 a.m.

“I was walking out to do an errand and then I saw this bird up in the branches, and it was just hovering there — but its wings weren’t moving. I thought, ‘How strange,’” said Alexis Borrero, an advertising executive for the Daughters of the American Revolution, which runs the famous concert venue.

“I came back from the errand and the next thing I knew, a fire engine showed up,” said Mr. Borrero.

Firefighter John Rooney needed a 30-foot ladder and 20 minutes to reach the stranded animal. Once he did, the bird, which was unable to fly, was turned over to animal-control officials. The bird will be released if healthy, Mr. Rooney said.

“I understand how the kite string gets up there,” Mr. Rooney said of the tangled mess that ensnared the bird. “But we also see a lot of fishing line sometimes, too.

“How that gets up there,” he said, “is a mystery.”

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