NEW YORK — New York City residents are unfazed by the unusual, so a swan riding the A train was just another day on the subway.
However, it was a matter of life or death for the female mute swan, which was found by a good Samaritan, who carried the 17-pound bird from Queens to an Upper West Side animal clinic, WNBC reported. It was a 23-mile trek with a bike, car and train.
The swan, now nicknamed Bae, was found in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Thursday by Ariel Cordova-Rojas, the television station reported.
Cordova-Rojas was at the refuge for a bike and hike when she noticed the lone adult swan, which could barely move.
“I just couldn’t leave her there,” Cordova-Rojas told WABC. “I approached really slowly with my jacket to throw over (its) body and head.”
The swan tried to move its wings and it made faint sounds, but Cordova-Rojas said she was able to wrap the coat around the animal and pick it up, The New York Times reported.
“You cannot simply walk up to a swan and expect them to be OK,” Cordova-Rojas told WNBC. “They’re going to try to bite, they’re going to try to make some wing motion to get you away from them, but she didn’t do that.”
Now, what? Cordova-Rojas was a mile away from her bicycle and a long way from any animal clinics.
“Well, I’m carrying a swan,” Cordova-Rojas told the Times. “I have no idea what to do. I guess I’m just going to walk.”
That’s when she ran into Brooklyn resident Josh Spector, who was also at the refuge. He told the Times the sight of a woman walking with a bird confused him.
“Is this actually her pet and she’s walking it through here?” Spector told the newspaper. He added that he and a friend had considered shrugging off the scene “as another crazy New York thing, but decided not to.”
Cordova-Rojas worked at the Wild Bird Fund on the Upper West Side for years, so she knew what to do. It was getting there that was an issue.
“I knew exactly where to go, but it was the how to get there which was a big problem since I came on my bicycle,” she told WNBC.
Some drivers stopped to give Cordova-Rojas and the bird a lift to the subway station, WABC reported. Cordova-Rojas and the swan were in one car, while her bike was in the other.
They all drove to the Howard Beach subway station, where a man, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee, helped Cordova-Rojas bring her bike and the swan to the platform and then onto the A train, the Times reported.
Cordova-Rojas placed the swan at the end of a long seat. She called friends and former colleagues at the Wild Bird Fund and asked them to meet her.
“Meanwhile, there’s a few people on the train and nobody seems to be fazed,” Cordova-Rojas told the Times. One man, she said, was “sitting right in front of me and he’s just on his phone. I don’t even know if he noticed there was a swan in front of him.”
Other riders were also unfazed.
“Nobody really cared because this is New York City and you see wild things every day,” Cordova-Rojas told WNBC.
Staff members at the Wild Bird Fund determined the bird was slightly underweight, and tests also discovered signs of lead poisoning, the Times reported. On Tuesday, the bird was undergoing treatment and would be reassessed in a few weeks, the newspaper reported.
Cordova-Rojas, who turned 30 the day after she found the swan, was happy to rescue the bird.
“That was kind of the perfect culmination of my 20s,” Cordova-Rojas told the Times. “It was the perfect birthday present to be in nature and be able to save a life.”