Can you believe it? Another update in less than two weeks!
It’s not that things have slowed down any, not with 12 animals still under my care. I do, however, have 6 birds (not included in the previous figure of 12) in release phase, which means they’re self-feeding and have the option of flying in and out of the pen but not totally sure they’re ready for true independence, two nearing that point, and two already released.
Who’s been released? Well, the psycho starling has been given his freedom and almost immediately replaced with a concussed, hostile house sparrow who was also released - yesterday, in fact.
Who’s in release phase? The finch and wren are well on their way to independence. In fact, I don’t actually hand feed the wren any more at all. She flies in and out of the pen, snagging a few mealworms here and there as the mood strikes and playing hide and shriek in all the nooks and crannies I provided for her for just that purpose. Wrens are hellacious to rehab, but once they’re self-sufficient or nearly so, they’re a lot of fun to watch. They’re such cheeky, chipper little nutcases!
The finch is a tiny little fraud, flying down to me demanding food, wings waving and trilling at the top of her little lungs, as if she’s starving to death...all the while with berry juice staining her beak and/or seeds stuck to it.
All four older mockers are in and out, yelling at me hoarsely when they decide they just can’t do this insect hunting thing - it’s too hard! Of course, they continue to receive hand feedings as need dictates, so they’re not hurting for food, the silly birds.
I have two more mockers, one a pre-fledgling and one a nestling. The nestling is pictured getting a feeding.
Mockers tend to be the most common birds I receive. They’re loud babies - I usually know before I even see them that the persons bringing me a baby bird have mockers. I always think of some little freckle-faced, towheaded boy throwing a temper tantrum when I hear mocker babies begging for food.
And they grow up to be aggressive, territorial snots, too - the other day I saw a mocker chasing a full-grown hawk! But you can’t help loving the rascals.
The dovelies (lovely doves = "dovelies") are also nearly self-sufficient and their flying skills improve daily. They have such sweet voices - a welcome counterpoint to the mockers!
The wood ducks are in the flight pen now and pretty much freak out when I go in to freshen food and water. Another rehabber & I were talking about wood ducks over the weekend, and we agreed that they never seem to develop the bond of trust that other birds and mammals do with their rehabbers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, although it can be exasperating when they run shrieking in fear as you freshen their food - an activity you’ve done several times daily for the past two months. Apparently they have really lousy long-term memories, "long-term" being defined for a wood duck as anything over five seconds!
The bluebird is still with us, but she’s looking like a truly lost cause. I took her in last week to have her euthanized, but she’d begun gaping for me the previous night, and she was so alert and her weight was normal, and I really, really adore bluebirds, so when Shelley Baumann of Smalley’s Animal Hospital suggested we give her a steroid injection to reduce any remaining inflammation that might be hindering her flight and balance abilities, I jumped at the chance to give this little sweetheart an extra week. Unfortunately, her balance hasn’t improved at all: in fact, her left leg is so weak she can’t stand on it without splaying her legs like some sort of feathered frog. Adding to that, Shelley & I had debated whether the bluebird was blind, and I’m beginning to think she’s at least severely vision impaired. Birds generally gape in the direction of the feeding syringe; she gapes and waits for the syringe to find her.
We gave her an extra week, but it’s not going to work. This beautiful, gentle bird is unreleasable. Her balance is so off that when she tries to preen, she falls backwards out of her nest. She can’t perch for more than 60 seconds without falling. She’ll never be able to eat on her own...We’ll ease her out of this life one day this week.
Euthanasia is never an easy decision, but it is the right decision when an animal’s quality of life would be compromised by allowing it to continue to live. This little darling wants to fly and cannot. She’ll never be able to experience the true freedom of the skies. The only freedom I can give her is an easy death. And while with most animals I can retain a somewhat detached, clinical distance, I know from previous experience with other unreleasable bluebirds that I’ll bawl like a baby when I have her euthanized.
On a less tear-jerking note, I also received another deer, a little doe this time, on Friday. She’d been caught in a fence and the folks who found her did the right thing by freeing her and leaving the area. A few hours later, they checked and she was hung again. Once again, they freed her and left. When they checked back again in a few hours, she was limping along the side of the road, crying for her mother. This was the right time to intervene, and they did, capturing her and bringing her to me.
Let me hop on my soapbox here for a moment and rant a little about kidnapping fawns - as I state elsewhere on this website, unless you see Mama dead nearby or unless the fawn’s life is in imminent danger, leave that baby alone! Mama Doe leaves her baby safely hidden while she grazes and returns frequently to feed him/her. When people kidnap these supposedly abandoned babies, that poor doe will return to the site where she left her baby for 4-5 days, calling that little one. How heartbreaking is that??
And if you’re absolutely sure that baby’s orphaned, when you take him/her home to call a rehabber, PUHLEEZ keep the fawn away from other people and pets. In fact, this is a good rule for any animal you’ve rescued and are taking to a rehabber.
Why??? Well, let me cite one example here. One of the bucks currently under my care was legitimately orphaned - pulled from the river as he was drowning, stuck under a log. Well done; gold star. Next, however, he was fitted with a belled cat collar and kept in the house with a chihuahua for FOUR days before DNR was contacted and gave the people my contact info. This poor buck has been with me for a couple of weeks now and still has issues with wanting to climb into my lap to take his bottle. I call him a "chihuadeer."
Remember, for ANY wild animals you’re rescued, the less contact these already stressed animals have with people and pets, the better off they’ll be. It’s additional stress they DO NOT need. Imagine how you’d feel if you’d lost your mother and siblings and were cold, weak, hungry and scared out of your gourd, and then some loud giant scooped you up and used you as "show & tell" to all the friends and neighbors while calling a rehabber - or worse yet, allowed their children to "love" you or their pets to drool into the box you’d been unceremoniously dumped into...C’mon, people, use a little common sense here! Put the animals in an escape-proof cardboard box (that never contained chemicals) with a dish cloth - NOT a terrycloth towel - on the bottom for them to grip, put the box in a quiet and dark or semi-dark area, and call a rehabber ASAP!
Sorry...off the soapbox now. Did anyone pass around a collection plate this time?? Didn’t think so...Work with me here, folks - when I preach, take up a collection: I can use the funds to pay for rehab supplies!