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Easter Release!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

 Three weeks is a long time in a human life. Imagine taking antibiotics for three weeks. After ten days, I'm ready to jump out of my skin. Now imagine being a very small bird, weighing less than half an ounce. You could mail two American goldfinches with one letter stamp. Well, as of this writing you could...

Some of these birds have been in this cage since March 4. Over the next four days I caught so darn many, snagging them off the tube feeders, that I just put that batch together in the largest cage I had (17 "x 20" x 25." The last one was caught March 8, so I had to hold the entire batch of six until that one was finished with its 21 day course of Tylan. 

Two large cages are sequestered in a quiet back bedroom that once belonged to Liam. When he came home this weekend I had to put him in a different room. He didn't complain--he was just glad to be home in a comfy bed, hanging with his mom and pet curdog, instead of his "cot" at college. And oh was it nice to see him for a few days! 

 This cage faces out onto the east hill, so the birds can see where they will fly soon. I keep the three sides facing into the room covered with a sheet. When the sun comes in I can spy on them. Keep your eye on the little female who starts the video popping up and down like popcorn on the left side of the cage. She then moves to pulling at a thread hanging from the cage cover. Oh, do these birds want OUT. 

And out they shall go. I wanted so badly to document it! I lay awake for several nights in the wee hours, trying to figure out how to execute both the release and a slow-motion video of it. I made a stiff cardboard false top for the cage and thought about pulling it off the cage with a string while manning the camera. Dumb, dumb, dumb, and I might inadvertantly injure a bird in doing it. Julie. You idiot. Just call Shila and ask her to make the dang video! I finally succeeded in fighting back Pioneer Woman long enough to make the call, and my faithful and talented photographer friend drove out to make this video. This is typical behavior for me, but it's exacerbated by long isolation.  I exhaust every possibility before I finally admit I need someone to help me. Shila is almost always that someone! I am so blessed to call her my friend.


Sharp observers will note that one goldfinch (probably the one who pulled threads and hopped up and down like a kindergartner) failed to leave. Never worry. She got out in the next wave.

Extra sharp observers will also note that I have gotten a MUCH needed haircut since this release video was made. If you thought you were reading a lifestyle and beauty blog, my presence in this video should serve to alert you that you're in the wrong place. In subsequent slo-mo release videos, I am going to endeavor to try not to look so much like I'm giving birth to a barnyard animal.

It feels SO GOOD to let these birds go. If this months-long ordeal has taught me anything, it's that I have less than zero desire to cage any bird, for one minute longer than I have to, in order to help it. 

And as I'm writing that sentence, an Eastern Phoebe lands on a low wall right in my sight. She flutters to the patio and looks hard at two twigs lying there. She's thinking about nesting! Two nights ago, a phoebe who might have been her spooked off the roost around 9:30 pm when I turned on the porch light to take Curtis out for his last wee. It blundered around the front stoop, bonking into the lit windows and hopping on the ground, until I caught it and brought it inside to spend a safe night in a Critter Keeper. Not going to let that precious bird fall prey to the screech-owl who leaves big white puddles on my front porch! 

The phoebe was not amused to be Gentle Cobra'ed and brought into the bright light of my kitchen. Please pardon my impudent digit; you can see more of the bird with that middle finger out of the way, and there's nothing I can do about it. Gotta love that rapidly snapping bill. I never knew phoebes did that. The two I hand-raised never had occasion to be that afraid or defensive. 

Cages have their place, and this spring they're all over my living space,  but my favorite thing to do with them is open the top and let that bird fly. Off it goes, into the sunrise!

 Remember Mr. Netinyahoo, the evil little goldfinch who evaded capture for days, then flew up to the clerestory windows in the living room? Here he is, feeling EVER so much better, on April 4. Still ornery though!

I can attest that he is fat as butter! Oh how I love to see them come back to life, and get sleek and fat again.

I caught him this morning to put him in the last cage, which will be released April 17. As of Easter Sunday, I am down to five birds in two cages, and after caring for 18, that feels like quite a load off my shoulders. 

I had better clear some bird care space, because the bluebirds are not wasting any time! Without any supplemental food at all, this little gal has five warm eggs as of the morning of April 3. Holy cow. In a hurry, she is! And that little phoebe I kept overnight? Already setting on eggs in a mud nest under the back deck. 

My, how Spring marches on. We have to just try to keep up, lurching along in her wake. 

We had two nights in the lower 20's, April 2 and 3. I figured my daffodils, roses, lilacs, bluebells, daylilies were all toast. Still I covered and fussed. And all but the poor kiwi vine came through with flying colors--literally!

As is usual with Nature, the joke was on me. 

Happy Easter from my little family to yours. 


I love that feisty little phoebe! And the slow-motion release of the goldfinches was fun to watch.

Julie, I love the updates on these precious patients of yours. I think I felt the same way when I released all my swallowtail butterflies 2 years ago. (Goodbye! Fly free! Don't get eaten!) I can't help but snort at the thought of birthing barnyard animals. You crack me up.
Keep up the good work! Your stories and photos just make my day.

The goldfinches will pass your name to all their offspring.

I’m new to birding, oh I’ve always enjoyed birds at my feeders but I see with new eyes now. I work at a college & the campus is gorgeous, a magnet for all kinds of birds. I especially enjoyed the hoot owl in spring & fall in the large tree outside my office, walking out at night a hearing his hoots across campus to a female owl. So I started reading books about owls, Wesley the Owl! And was hooked on birds ever since. Fast forward 7 bird books later I then read Saving Jemima!!! Such a beautiful story of love, loss, faith & resilience. Thank you for pouring your heart & soul into this little bird & story. I hope perhaps that you have seen her since your last writing, a passion of humans & nature coming together, sharing & letting go. Because of your book (& the others I’ve read, honestly this book cemented my love & interest with birds) I see birds differently & for the first time I saw a Bullocks Oreole at my feeder yesterday! OMG such a gorgeous bird! Heartfelt thank you.

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