Northern Ireland

Feather-ending story: Bird safe after Belfast roof rescue

Swan rescue Image copyright Debbie Doolittle's Wild Life
Image caption Swan on a fraught, thin roof

A swan has been released back into the wild after being rescued from a Belfast city centre roof on Monday.

Shoppers witnessed the dramatic rescue on Arthur Street after the lost swan-derer was spotted on top of a five-storey building.

Animal rescuer Debbie Nelson, who helped co-ordinate the operation, said the female bird may have mistaken the slate-grey roof for a swan lake.

The fire service brought the bird back down to earth several hours later.

Image copyright Debbie Doolittle's Wild Life
Image caption Fire service helped rescue the stuck bird

The unusual bird rescue comes after a rabbit was brought down from a roof in County Tyrone after a storm in January.

The bird spent a night resting and was released back into the wild at an east Belfast nature reserve on Tuesday.

Ms Nelson, also known as Debbie Doolittle for her years rescuing animals, posted about the feather-ending story on Facebook after being called by onlookers who feared the bird could be about to have its swansong.

She said that it is very common for swans to land on roads, thinking it is water, but more unusual for a swan to end up on a roof.

Image copyright Debbie Doolittle's Wild Life
Image caption Fire service bring the swan back down to earth

"After landing on the roof, the swan would have nowhere to go as it needs quite a long runway in order to take off again. It's essentially an aeroplane."

Safety risk

She said she "didn't believe it" when she first heard, but that it was soon clear the bird could pose a "major safety problem".

"It was the middle of the afternoon on a busy street, so if the swan fell off the roof it could have hurt someone.

"It would be the weight of a Labrador coming off a five-storey building."

The fire service do not usually get involved in animal rescues, said Ms Nelson, but agreed to help because of the possible risk to public safety.

Image copyright Debbie Doolittle's Wild Life
Image caption Rescuer Debbie Nelson has named the swan 'Andi' after the firefighter (right) who helped rescue her

A rescue operation was planned for later that evening after shops had closed and the street was quieter.

"It took about an hour to get on the roof," said Ms Nelson. "When we got up there, it was up against a wall resting.

"It was a pretty quick catch, we were able to get her into the net quite fast."

In tribute to the fire service's efforts, Ms Nelson has called the swan Andi, after the individual who helped rescue the bird.

Image copyright Debbie Doolittle's Wild Life
Image caption Andi was released back into the wild on Tuesday

"I've been rescuing animals for over 30 years, and I've never seen this before," she said. "I did once rescue a badger from a garage loft, but this is definitely a new one."

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