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Buffalo residents rescue birds stuck in ice after historic winter storm

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — Buffalo residents helped free 16 birds stuck in ice along the waterfront of LaSalle Park after a deadly blizzard swept through the region over the weekend.

Seamus Gallivan and Alex McArthur said the rescue mission was borne out of wanting to help somehow, while the city remained paralyzed by the historic winter storm. The couple says they spent 56 hours without power as a record 51 inches of snow fell.

“When we finally got power back on and kind of got out of survival mode, I was walking around the neighborhood with a shovel just looking for anyone who needed help. Things seemed pretty stable, so I walked into the park and came upon a guy who was sort of standing over something,” Gallivan told ABC News.

That something was a gull stuck in a thick layer of ice encasing the park where the Niagra River meets Lake Eerie.

“He called for help, and I really had no idea what I was walking into,” Gallivan said.

They freed a couple of the gulls with a hammer, then Gallivan and McArthur returned with chisels and screwdrivers to rescue more birds.

“The ice was pretty thick. It was not just something you could easily break with your hands or something,” McArthur told ABC News.

Chipping away the ice became a bit easier as temperatures rose on Wednesday and Thursday, Gallivan said. Some of the gulls were stuck to the ice by their feet, wings or tails. Eventually, they brought out a spray bottle filled warm salt water to help free the birds.

One of the birds appeared to be in bad shape with ice stuck to it, so the couple took it home in a box to warm up by their fireplace, based on advice Gallivan received after posting about the situation in a local birding Facebook group, he said. After a few hours in the warmth, the bird looked more alert, so they took the bird outside and it flew away. That inspired them to keep looking for more birds to save.

“You may have heard Buffalo is called the city of good neighbors. I think the origin of that is how we come together and meet each other, because we have to check on each other when stuff like this happens. You know, when your neighbor is buried in snow and they can’t get out, whether it’s a seagull or an old lady, someone’s gotta check on them,” Gallivan said.

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