Jun 24 2012

Baby bird rescue!


At the DayJob, there’s a warehouse. With very high ceiling.

And big garage doors, which spend a lot of time open.

Our local swallows think this is excellent. Fly in, fly out. A little refuge when it rains. And hey, if you get locked in at night, no prob, they’ll let you out in the morning.

Oh, and this year: build a nest.

Result: a bunch of warehouse guys crowded around a cardboard box containing two baby swallows which fell from some ungodly height up in the rafters down to the cement floor. Babies peeping very loudly and doing the gape-mouthed FEED ME thing. And no way to get them back up there.

Clueless guy: “Don’t touch them, whatever you do don’t touch them! The mother will kill them if she smells you on them!

Me (sidling in to look): “Um, no. Most birds have almost no sense of smell…”

CG: “No, that’s what they always tell you, never touch a baby bird…”

Me: “Yeah — commonly held misconception. Vultures — great sense of smell, vultures. ‘Cause, you know, they eat rotten meat. But, most other birds– no real sense of smell.”

(Everyone now looking at me.)

Me: “‘s true.”

(Everyone looks in the box.)

Me: “I… kinda know a lot about birds…”

(They look at me again.)

Me: “We… actually raised some orphaned birds when I was a kid…”

(Look in the box. Look at me.)

Five minutes later: the box has magically become mine.

And there I was, at my desk, repeatedly dropping globs of milk-soaked bread down the gullets of two semi-naked baby birds with one hand, while using the other to search the internet for local bird rescue people or foundations. Because, when we raised baby birds, my mother was a stay-at-home mom, and did most of the feedings. If I brought those birds home, they’d starve while I was at work.

I was not having much luck, as apparently every foundation that took baby birds was located hours and hours away, on opposite corners of the state…

Fortunately, co-worker Shelley thought to use the old-fashioned phone instead of the newfangled internet, and called her vet’s office, asking if they knew of any place that takes baby birds.

And they did! And it was in my town! And I could get there and back over lunch!

The wonderful Roseanne at the Yalesville Veterinary Hospital is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, and had some other bird babies about the same age. I filled out the form, passed over the peepers still peeping, and donated all the cash in my wallet (about 17 bucks), to help with food. They were stunned when I gave them money. Apparently, most people don’t do that.

So, all is well, as I was able to assure all concerned parties back at the warehouse.

But it made me kind of nostalgic.

Of the three baby birds we had when I was a kid, one survived to adulthood. Stanley the Starling loved my mom, and long after he was grown, she could walk out the door and call “Stanley? Stanley? Where is he?” and he’d come fluttering down from the trees to perch on her finger. She’d tickle his neck and stroke the feathers on his breast, and tell him how beautiful he was.

And one day, predictably, he did not come, and we never saw him again. But Mom said that was all right. Because, he was a bird. He flew away, because that’s what birds are supposed to do.

It all came back with the smell of that bread-and-milk concoction; and the very weird sensation of a bird trying to suction down your entire finger as you slide the food into a mouth bigger than the rest of the bird’s head; and the sound, as the non-stop peep turns into a peeping gurgle when the birdie swallows. Still peeping, you know, just in case you forgot he was there.

They are so very single-minded. And when they grow up, they get to fly.