Sunday, June 30, 2013
I'm blogging from our hotel in Albany, New York. We're on a college-viewing swing through New England, on our way to teach The Arts of Birding at Hog Island Audubon Camp (not very far) off Maine's coast. On the schedule for today: Bennington College. No matter that Bennington's the country's most expensive college. An artist and editor's daughter can still dream.
It's hard to be away in June, and I've been away from home since June 10, when I flew out to North Dakota.
I had a trailer behind me. Before I could leave, I had to drop off three baby birds. The first, a newly fledged downy woodpecker I found in our shrubbery. It appeared to have a spinal injury, showing bruising over the back right pelvis. It couldn't use its legs and could barely use its wings. I can't imagine how it ended up that way. There were no puncture wounds. Perhaps its nest tree collapsed? I don't know.
I just knew that I couldn't leave it there flopping on the ground. So I mixed up some Purina One Kitten Chow, ground in a coffee grinder, added warm water and syringe-fed it full.
Next was a baby robin that a woman had found a week earlier. She called me about it. After I talked with her awhile, I could sense that she had the right stuff and the desire to take care of it. I didn't have time to mess with it, so I told her how to feed it until I could take it. Which was just as I fed the downy.
She did a marvelous job. Just look at it! She'd never fed a baby bird before. She loved it. Said it had been the best week of her life. I felt sorry that she couldn't finish raising it, but she wasn't permitted to do so, and lived in an apartment complex full of cats which would be a bad place to try to soft-release a robin.
It was easy to tell that robin had had plenty of love. As well as plenty of kitten chow. FAT.
It sat on my shoulder like a friendly parakeet. It was time to get this bird with other robins, in a big net flight enclosure where it could learn to be a robin instead of a parakeet.
How I wished I could do that myself, but I had to go. So I took it in and fed it up, too, and prepared a carrier for it. That's two. But there was a third call, another one I couldn't say no to. I don't care how busy you get as a rehabber, there are just some birds you can't turn away. To be continued...
So we're dealing with a paralyzed downy woodpecker and a very sweet fledgling robin. Last but not least, I got a call on the phone the day before my departure. Someone had found a tiny owl on the ground in the woods behind Tractor Supply and brought it, of all places, to the local We Love Pets. Christy the manager has my number. I asked her to send me a cellphone photo of the bird, just to be sure what we were dealing with.
Yep. Babeh eastern screech-owl. OMG, squeeee! Literally the size of a navel orange, with a creaky little voice that stole my heart. Reeek. Reeeek.