Sunday, May 27, 2012

Simply Chicks Take a (little) Walk on the Wild Side

Feeding Albert from a Syringe
Life got a little bit more interesting for us yesterday evening. My darling daughter, along with six of her closest friends, paraded into the backyard with a box. In the box was a bird, a baby bird... a robin, to be exact.

The tiny critter looked terrified, cowering in his nest, fully feathered, a fledgling.

"He was abandoned by his mom!" Brie proclaimed. The others nodded earnestly.

"We must save him!" The kids were adamant.

"Oy," I sighed. "He probably shouldn't have been moved," I scolded.

Too late. The bird was now on the other side of town, thanks to my better half, who transported the diminutive rescue, along with said caregivers, who mistakenly assumed that since I am a chicken keeper, naturally, I know all things "bird," and would know exactly what to do with a non-domesticated member of the same species.

So, on to the internet I went, searching for sites that would provide me with some clue as to how to care for this wild creature, now that the box had landed in my lap and the children were busy setting up a make shift brooder in the garage.

Thankfully, one of the kids' dads is a doctor.

"Give it sugar water in a syringe, to start. That will keep it going until you figure out what to do next."

Good idea... off to Walgreens I raced to buy a syringe, and returned post haste to administer nourishment to the little guy.

"Albert," I cooed.... yes, I named him. He opened his tiny orange beak and gulped down the sugar water with gusto.

We settled Albert in for the night with a chick waterer, his nest, and a soft towel.  This morning, he was looking rather spritely, so I was encouraged.

"Time for breakfast, Albert!" I researched... looks like the organic baby chick feed, plus warm water, plus a hard boiled egg, all mashed together, would do the trick.

Albert was only happy when I was feeding him.
Albert gobbled this down with delight. He now sat on the patio chirping at me. Wanting more. Each time I approached him, his mouth opened wide.

Uh oh. I'm Mom. Oh noooo...

Rushing to the phone, I call Wildlife in Crisis, our local wildlife rehabilitation center, located in Weston. And I sent them an email. It's Sunday. Yikes. I needed help....  right away. I left messages.

Thankfully, someone called me back, within 10 minutes. In less than an hour, Brie and I chugged down the road to the center, Albert safely nestled in a small towel inside his box. At the center, Brie recounted the rescue effort in detail.

"The bird was knocked out of the nest and the nest was on the ground. We think it was the neighbor's dog that did it. We waited a while for the mother to return to the nest, and she didn't," Brie described.

Peter, the wildlife rehabilitator on duty, put Brie at ease. "The nest was no longer viable, and the bird might not have lived if you hadn't stepped in to help... that bird is nowhere near ready to fly."

Peter shared that the bird would be hand fed in an incubator for a couple of weeks, then placed in a flight cage with other fledglings, and finally, released into the wild. He said the whole process would take about 6 weeks.

Offering my apology to Brie for initially scolding her about the rescue... we gave a donation to the center and looked about at the rescued wildlife admiringly.

In the corner on a bed lay a deer, whose quality of life was compromised due to a severe birth defect, but made comfortable and looked quite healthy. I gave him a neck rub which he seemed to appreciate. A wood duck sat on top of the microwave, a falcon perched in a corner. Peter busied himself with hawk release preparations.

Do you see the other raccoon peering out from under the shed?
Outside, a whiskery raccoon munched on some kibble, gazing up at us inquisitively.

Awww. Cute fellow. Hard to think this guy is Public Enemy #1 for chicken keepers. Best to leave him right where he sat.

We ventured back home to our flock of girls, reassured that baby Albert was in good hands, and might visit us some day... a free and happy member of the feathered, chirping community we share our lives with.