…And for the next SIX hours, the nestling bluebirds, who’d been without food for God knows how long, were fed moistened cat food, before LWR was contacted. Now, understand, moistened high-quality cat food isn’t the worst emergency diet, for a few hours, until baby birds can be gotten to a rehabber, BUT… there are certain protocols that MUST be followed to ensure the babies have the best chance at survival. First, they must be warm before being fed; second, they must be hydrated before being fed. Hydration is something that should ONLY be done on the advice and instruction of a licensed bird rehabber, as if it’s done improperly, the birds can get fluid in their lungs and literally drown to death without even being in water; at best, they end up with aspiration pneumonia and require medication for that. Also, cat food causes diarrhea, which can compromise already-fragile babies and create an unhealthy mess as the poor birds poop all over themselves and their siblings. The higher-quality cat foods cause fewer problems, but most people use whatever they have on hand or can get easily, which frequently isn’t one of the better brands.
Because I didn’t know how many feedings these precious birds had missed before being found, and because they were not in good shape on intake—despite the rescuers’ placing a rice sock in with them, they were still chilled and damp, plus we had rampant diarrhea going on from the cat food—I worked until 2:00 the next morning trying to stabilize them. I thought we’d rounded the corner and they had a chance, but within the next few hours, every single one of them died.
Below are comparison photos of healthy bluebird nestlings in their box, at 4 days, and the poor babies who didn’t make it, who were about 4 days old, as well, based on their development.
Early last week, an adult male great horned owl was pulled from a barbed wire fence. Surprisingly, nothing felt broken to me and the flesh, while raw, wasn’t badly damaged. Still, x-rays were required to confirm no fractures, so off to Smalley’s we headed…
REALLY??? Then here’s a novel idea: KEEP YOUR CATS INSIDE!!! Folks, honestly, how many times does it bear repeating before it sinks in that cats AND wildlife are safer when the cats are INDOORS???
This handsome fellow is eating well, he’s alert, and he lets me know he’s unhappy about oral and topical meds for his cat-inflicted wound. But if the x-rays show a wing fracture and it’s unfixable, which is likely given the source of the injury, he’ll have to be euthanized—all because some irresponsible soul lets cats roam freely outdoors and blithely shrugs off their depredation.
So forgive me if I seem a little testy this week. I don’t like losing baby birds when a prompt call to a rehabber could have probably prevented their deaths, and I don’t like facing the very real possibility of putting down an otherwise healthy bird because of someone else’s lack of concern for our native wildlife.