Bird Business: the first 24 hours
When I came home yesterday afternoon [(Jeep #4 got its first oil change and tire rotation, as well as the R40 software update, which is supposed to fix the hacking issue (we’ll see)], as I walked up to the second floor of the building, I saw a baby bird cowering on the landing. I’m pretty sure the bird was not there when I left a few hours earlier, at least not where I could see it, and it is a small landing.
I went online to research what to do, and after watching a video of a baby bird being handfed, I decided it was best to find a local wildlife rehabilitator. I spoke to a woman in the area, but she does not handle birds. The little bird was going to need a home for the night, so I set about making a shoebox nest. (For the first time ever, I was glad to have big feet.)
Before I left for church this morning, I checked on my new friend. When I did not see the bird, I thought it had flown away. I got rid of the nest I had made in the box and started to clean up the landing, and when I turned around to go up the flight of steps and back inside, there was my little bird cowering just below the bottom step. Oh no. Big sigh. Little dove did not fly away. And now I had run down to the pond and get materials for a new nest.
After looking about and wondering, I eventually discovered where this baby bird came from. The parents built a nest atop a column on the third floor landing. One of the parents was up there this morning. My neighbor said the sibling is still in the nest.
Why Do I Do These Things?
- Search for wildlife rehabilitators and call them on the phone
- Watch three videos on how to feed a dove fledgling (my bird is not this cooperative)
- Make two trips to the new Walmart
- Purchase the wrong kind of bird seed
- Purchase the wrong kind of bird seed again
- Purchase some cat food and a plastic ketchup bottle dispenser (for feeding the bird), and an ashtray
- Make one trip to the new PetSmart, where I happy accident run into the store manager who told me they won’t open for 3 more weeks; I could not refrain from telling him about the baby dove
- Soak cat food in water, mush it into a pudding, load this goop into the plastic ketchup dispenser, try to feed the bird, who would not eat
- Google some more videos on feeding dove fledglings; warm up the cat food mush, which the bird ate (some) this time
Things I’ve Learned
- Item One and Most Importantly: I am not the person for this job
- A 97-cent ashtray makes a great water dish
- When dove fledglings leave the nest, around 11 or 12 days old, they are on the ground for a few days before they learn to fly; parents usually are caring for them during this time, but they are at high risk with cats and snakes prowling about (which is why baby doves have such a high mortality rate)
- Doves build sloppy nests, which are prone to being blown about by the wind during a storm (not feeling so bad about the bird fort I made for my little guy)
- Doves have a different feeding method than other birds
- Do not give bread to baby birds
- If you can’t get the baby bird food powder to make a paste, then soak cat and/or dog food in water and mash it into a pudding consistency
- If at first the bird does not eat, the food may not be warm enough
- Don’t put the bird on a flat surface; it needs twigs to climb on
- Doves lay two eggs
- The younger bird, the more warmth it needs; once feathers start coming in, the bird can regulate its temperature (which seemed to be the case with this critter)
When I saw my bird, yes, it is my bird now, climb into his new shoebox home and settle on the second nest (okay, nest-like structure; okay, twigs, grass stems, and thai basil clippings strewn about in a most haphazard way), it was all worth it.
Two young children live up on the third floor. I was worried they might want to feed the bird some bread, so I wrote on his box “no bread; baby bird learning to fly.”
I’m pretty sure the property management company would not be happy to know about my efforts to care for the local wildlife.
Question of the Day: Does this bird have half a chance at survival with me at the helm?