Never, never, be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way - Martin Luther King
The above statement has always been the driving force behind many of my decisions, and the decision to take on the responsibility of raising two abandoned baby waxwings. However as much as we love to help nature, nature is best left in nature unless you know for sure, it is at risk, and with the internet today, help is not far away.Firstly, all my life, I have raised abandoned wild baby birds and small animals. Back then it was unknown to me that, it was illegal, unless you were licensed in your province as a Wildlife Rehabilitator, that you were allowed to do this, as I am sure many, never knew or know of this law. We humans of course, are driven by that "help save nature" in us.
My daughter just found a baby osprey, and that was our first move, CALL in the rehabbers, which we did, however this situation was much different, and many times they are just too full to help.
The day started out with a call, Vic there are some baby birds here, and I have been watching them since 5 a.m. this morning, no sign of adults, can you come and take these, they seem abandoned. By now it was 7:00 p.m.
Knowing the time you must dedicate to raising baby birds, my first reaction was to go over and put them in a make shift nest, raise it off the ground, and let the parents return to feed, and take it from there, which I did. Great, no more worries, they will return. With 8 adult cats wandering around, and raccoon and skunks around in evenings, many nestlings just never make it around here. Simple as that.
The first thing I do when I find baby birds is 1) determine if they are nestlings or fledglings, if nestlings and cannot perch on my finger, try to locate nest which should be close by, and return them to it, or a similar makeshift nest, where the parents can hear them. Parents can hear their babies for two blocks and 2) if fledglings and they can perch and hold onto your finger, find a safe bush or low branch where you can put them and they should be safer from predators such as cats. Parents are always generally close by, they push them out of the nest to teach them the laws of life on the ground, and this is a tough lesson, because many do perish due to predators such as cats and other wild animals, and more, get picked up by people thinking they are abandoned when really they are not.
All said and done keep a watchful eye for the return of the parents, you can tell if the babies are pooping something is feeding them, and this is a good thing. Only the parents can teach them what you cannot, much of which is life saving.
If they are abandoned you are supposed to call the local Rehabbers to have a legitimate person take on this duty as it is a commitment from beginning to release, and you need to know what to feed the type of baby bird it is, and not to feed it liquid anything, as all baby birds have their wind pipe under their tongues and many will die if you get fluid down this. So whatever type the little bird is, will dictate if it eat seeds, fruits, insects or a raptor, which eats meat. This will determine diet. Rehabbers know all of this.
So upon returning to check on these babies, it was noted one had died overnight and the other two did not look too good and there were no poops so that meant no food, and no parents. I called our local rehab and got a telephone answering machine basically saying they were too full right now and that I should look at taking these to the local shelters to be humanely euthanized...............NO WAY!
The knowing that I have, on raising the different types of wild baby birds took over, I was mom and would be until the day comes, so be it, raise and release.
Abandoned baby waxwings, they were identified by my better half immediately, as he is a wildlife photographer and the gold band across the tail and the bright pink mouth, ID'd them as the stunning waxwing baby. Approximate age, 15 days old when pushed out of nest. So these 15 day old babies, were to become our Day 1 babies.
My duties were about to begin. Full time, every 30 minutes, fruits and soaked cat food would do the trick. So organic blueberries, raspberries and our farm is blessed with bushes of wild organic black raspberries which we had been lucky enough to pick and freeze almost a years supply.
The babies were in heaven, and we began Day 1. Now for a safe cage, so off to the goodwill and value villages, which would prove to be successful, in that I found a large small wired, perfect condo for them. Now to renovate and make it look a little like the wild, that was simple, a few limbs cut to the right length and put into the cage where they could hop and perch, and cedar was the choice of tree branches.
NEXT to download the sound of the adults from the internet and play this over and over, at least 8 times a day so they would know this call. If you double click on title you can hear this.
Now would time be on my side, would they survive, they went from 3 to two, and I was determined these two would be free, in the not too distant future.
The sun would come up to the most excited little chirps, and set to the last chirps of the day, as all birds, stop after 8:00 p.m. and sleep, this would become a full time job for the next 3 weeks, but I was ready for it, after all, being a mother, a ex-nurse, 30 year dog breeder, and having raised many baby birds, WHY NOT GIVE THESE A CHANCE.
Day one was over, they had a home, food, safety and me.......hopefully in the morning I will hear the peeps and know they survived the night.
Morning had broken, to the sounds of birds outside chattering with the sunrise and my nudge to get up, I could hear they were fine, and they heard me, wide open pink mouths, so out to hang the cage in a tree so they could eat and listen to the sounds of early morning, all the birds, trees and a feast of berries and cat food.
I had determined these were fledglings, and they appeared to be in good condition as Day 2 begins, they could hold on to my finger. Perching, exercising wings, hopping up and down on the branches was to begin this day, as they explored this new world.
Day 3 they are alert, calling, listening, eating and pooping...all good signs. Can still see lots of quill feathers and know they have a long way to go, but they are safe and their release is my focus, determined to take them there I will keep that day close.
Listening to the call of the wild, they would chirp at the sound of their kind, moving them from tree to tree on the property would familiarize them with the 120 acres we have, and the sounds of everything in the trees.
We feed the wild birds here, so we have a bird center just by our deck where they can hear everything hummers, canaries, sparrows, blue jays, cardinals and just about anything that should venture in. It is latter July, and SOON the raptors will be arriving and passing through........I knew I could never teach the sound of the mother, when she sends a warning through the air to alert her babies that danger was at hand, but I would have to rely on the the other mothers like the mother robin who had 4 fledglings around and her alert would also alert, as would the crows that topped the trees when danger lurked. So these babies were at the mercy of mother nature, the sounds, the everyday activities of the land of wild birds.
Evening closes on Day 4 and we move into day 5, and we are starting to see more feathers, appetites are voracious and blueberries rule, however some protein helps the feathers grow better so the soaked catfood works well, as does the bugs I catch and also feed them, never thought I would be out looking for caterpillars, flies were easy, they are in abundance, and they would encounter their first thunderstorm and rain today.
Each day from Day 6 to Day 10, would be something new, they were introduced to a dish of water and on day 10 they would drink, and both have their first bath by their own instinct, and yes I got soaked, but the the laughs were beyond description. Eating, growing, flying, all was going as supposed to. Day 11 of being with us and they were approximately 15 days old when I got them, so they are a total of 26 days of age, and release is getting closer. They react nicely to the bird call and low and behold an adult is close by on the top of the cedars. Could this be? MOM! Whether yes or no this bird has now been named the Watchful Eye. At 26 days old you can see the change, their tail feathers are lengthening and the crop on their head stands up, their mask has darkened, and they know how to do just about everything, ALL IS WELL, RELEASE I CAN SENSE, is close at hand. They have experienced sitting on the ground as I remove the bottom of the cage so they can peck at insects, and as they are moved around the trees on the property, they have eyes as sharp as razors, they can see everything, even an ant crawling up the cage......MOTHER NATURE is taking over slowly as their senses sharpen. Day 16 is upon us, or they are 31 days old, nothing is standing in their way, they are fine specimens of the WAXWING Clan.
I sense the time is near, they are restless and the Watchful Eye is around and calling. I think I have taught them well, but more they have taught me to take a good look around, there are miracles everyday, if we take the time to look.
Saturday August 6, 2011, got up, got out of bed, it was a different day, the little ones were little no more, their body language told me this was the day, there simply were no questions, I had become attached, but their hearts were wild and the wilderness was calling, I said bye peeps.......with that off they flew with strength, valor and pride that this beautiful wild bird offers, and the peeps could be heard as they danced in the sky with bratty teenage flight letting us know, we can fly like the wind.
BUT that was not the last we were to see of our peeps. I put some cedar branches on our deck with a bowl of blueberries and black raspberries, and that would be there every day for them along with a bath water container, should they want to stay close and have food for a while yet........for 7 days they came back ate, flew above us and peeped with delight as they played in the sky with their wild dance. Nothing more beautiful to watch, they would come in and say hi and bye, soon I knew they would find something wonderful.
Saturday August 13th, the peeps are 35 days old, there is a gathering of about 10 juvenile Waxwings in the Spruce Tree, our peeps joined in, and off they flew, we did not see them for the rest of that day, however Sunday August 14th, still no peeps and they were done with the offerings we had set out, I called no answer again, and then out of the wild blue yonder literally, a gang of 10 young Cedar Waxwings flew in and I could hear our peeps, called, they called back for the last time, and off they went again with their newly found gang, now sporting their mohican hair do. WOW!
Martin Luther King always got it right.....and as I began, I will end this with his quote...Never, never, be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way!
I do not recommend anyone take any little birds that more than likely are being watched over by the parent birds, as they can, and do, do a better job than we can, as we cannot teach them which trees will keep them dry in a drenching rain storms, or we cannot peep at them when a hawk is near, we cannot show them the trees to hide in when night is upon us........so remember if you do ever encounter a baby bird, lift it to a safe place if a fledgling, or if by some chance a wind has maybe blown a baby out of a nest, try putting it back in........but if you have to save it.........there are options, you decide.
May the wild at heart always remain WILD! Vicky
Rescue and Release.....Over and Out!
Thanks again Jerry my better half, for some of the great shots, as usual!
AN UPDATE, recently November 2015, my daughter and I went and took our Wildlife Rehabilitation Course and I PASSED! WOOHOO.