Laura Muriel with one of the swifts tucked inside her jacket. SOS Vencejos
The girl with wings
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The girl with wings

A flock of Alpine swifts were caught in a downpour and got so wet that some couldn't keep flapping and fell to the ground. Birds were literally raining from the sky, but Laura Muriel, a 28-year-old veterinarian, raced to the rescue

Ignacio Lillo


Friday, 7 June 2024, 13:46


This story begins on a strange day in Malaga, a day when it was raining, and lately around here, that's rarer than a green dog. A flock of Alpine swifts got caught in the downpour while flying over the Churriana area.

They got so wet, with no possible shelter, that some couldn't keep flapping and fell to the ground. Birds were literally raining from the sky.

The alert reached Laura Muriel, a 28-year-old veterinarian, specialist in wild and exotic animals and activist for the SOS Vencejos (SOS Swifts) association. With the help of some colleagues, she spent two days collecting distressed birds from the roads, streets and even from under cars.

Those with the most severe hypothermia, she placed inside her coat, close to her body to warm them up. In total, the activists rescued 22 dying animals.

Inside a cardboard box, Laura took them home, and with the help of an office chair, one of those with a mesh back where the little birds could perch, she dried their feathers using a hairdryer.

Then, an electric blanket served as heating to keep them at a good temperature and, thanks to her veterinary knowledge, she was able to hydrate and feed them.

Of those 22 rescued swifts, 20 are now flying again on their long journey that takes them between Europe and Africa each year. In fact, this story wouldn't be complete without mentioning Lindt, the only banded bird, who had been born in a village in Switzerland. Who knows where Lindt might be flying now.

The survival rate was extremely high, and the operation was one of the most successful in the organisation's history, which has just released an emotional video on social media to share the story, now that it has concluded after two months.

Because the truth is, a significant number of protected species have been saved from certain death, and for once, humans were not the executioners but the protectors against the relentless forces of nature.

But I would say more. Because, in the end, this goes far beyond the specific act of saving those poor animals. The world keeps turning, and we haven't completely lost our minds amidst our miseries, wars, brutal abuses of the planet, and destruction...

It's because of small gestures like these. It's because there are people who are willing to drop everything to dry the feathers of a drenched swift with a hairdryer.

Keep flying high so everyone can see you, girl with wings.

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