FOUR Little Birds, Humming On My Doorstep!
Being brand new to wildlife rehabilitation, my daughter, Niamh and I, started caring for three little Starlings from a brood of five on Friday, May 11th, 2012 – Larry, Curly and Moe. By Sunday, Niamh decided to change Curly’s name to Charlie and Larry’s to Tiny as he just wasn’t thriving like the others were. By Monday, May 14th, we were able to take the other two who were being cared for by our Wild Kritters of Niagara mentor, Brenda.
Sadly, our Tiny continued to decline and on Tuesday afternoon, we lost him. It was devastating to both of us. It is amazing how quickly our hearts bond to the dependent creatures in our care. Tiny was just not developing as well as the other ones. He had a claw that was deformed and this made him quite unstable on his feet. He wasn’t able to lift his head much at all, had difficulty swallowing unless we gently massaged his neck and he didn’t sing as the other ones were doing. We had been quite concerned about him over the course of 3 days and tried our very best to encourage him to open his beak to eat but in the end, his disabilities overcame his will to survive and we had to say good-bye to Tiny. Niamh wrote a loving farewell letter to him and he is resting now in the side garden of our home. (Please see this heartwarming letter at the bottom of the article)
In Tiny’s honor, Niamh named one of the two new added Starlings, Tiny Jr. Our other new family member is Buddy and Moe has been renamed, Frankenstein. I often have to consult Niamh to help me remember the ever-changing names! Our brood of four is getting more and more powerful by the day! It is now Tuesday, May 22nd and not only do they have all of their feathers, they are flying independently and are almost eating on their own as well. They cannot be released responsibly, until they can independently eat so we are indeed on our last stage with them. I go through mixed emotions from sheer exhaustion and frustration, to elation and sadness, anticipating their departure. To rehabilitate is a feeling like none other. Every creature - great and small - deserves a life and some would not even get the chance if it weren’t for loving hands.
Through observation, we have been able to see how the birds mimic one another. One of the four, Frankenstein, is most definitely the leader. He was the first to perch, the first to attempt flying and the first to eat from the dish. We watch in awe as the others seem to gravitate toward him and attempt these feats, one at a time – truly amazing. In less than two weeks, we have witnessed completely dependent featherless birds, become almost independent fully functioning adult Starlings, ready to take on the world! On Sunday, we brought their cage outside so they could listen even closer to the Starling song and continue to imprint. Up until that point, we would hang the cage in the living room window and allow them to hear and see all they could but that is no comparison to outside in the open. To our utter amazement, an adult Starling flew over to the cage, swooped down and fluttered on the spot for a few seconds before taking off. My immediate grandmotherly instincts were to swoosh it away from the babies but in a split second I realized it was probably a mother Starling who recognized her kind and was innocently curious. Had I caught that moment on film, it would have been invaluable!
So, today’s job is to allow the birds to come and go out of the cage as they please in a safe setting. We will continue to encourage them to eat independently and hopefully, with Frankenstein’s help, we will continue to lead the other four to gradual independence. With all of our combined efforts, we should be able to introduce our Starlings to the wild in less than a week’s time! Wish us luck!
I love you very, very much tiny we tried our best we love you a lot I am sorry this happened to you.
Love mama bird
Your Mama Bird Niamh tried very hard to help you eat but your body just didn’t want to. You weren’t able to swallow or keep your food down. I hope that your next journey brings you to a beautiful place. Be well on your journey.
Love Grandma Bird