I was sitting in the kitchen last night and I heard flapping outside the window. I looked out and there was this baby bird rolling around in the dirt. My guess is that it is learning to fly and fell from it’s perch. At first I stayed back and took pictures with a zoom lens. Then I inched my way closer and the poor little guy didn’t fly away – perhaps a broken wing? I grabbed a pair of gloves to pick him up and inspect. Judging by the pictures, I’d say he was hungry. I dug up a worm for him, but he wasn’t interested – perhaps he was waiting for me to chew it up and regurgitate it?!! That, or he was too frightened by me. I built him a nest with some clumps of dog fur and hoped he made it through the night.
He is still there this morning – alert, but still. I referenced my bird guide and I can’t figure out what kind of bird he is. Does anyone out there know? And I’m not sure what to feed him – perhaps this morning I will try a smooshed worm?
Update, 3:30 PM – I have checked on my little friend throughout the day – he’s still there. At one point he had a red berry in his mouth – a berry from bushes that are nowhere near the bird – perhaps his mother found him and feed him the berry? So later in the day I mashed up a strawberry and collected some of those same berries and put them in a dish. I also left a dish of water. It wasn’t long before the bird was eating some of the berries, but he was having some difficulty, falling face-first into the dish. So, I went outside and with a teensy little stick I stabbed one berry at a time, put it up to his mouth and he went for it and swallowed it right down. He started chirping, and mouth wide like “more more more!” I also gave him a couple droplets of water. It wasn’t long before wings were flapping… and although he did not fly away… he moved about three feet away from me into the wood pile… which is the most he has moved since last night. We’ll have to see what happens next.
Update, 7/22/11, 4:00 PM – My little friend is still hanging in there. Lots of wing flapping, a couple of mini flights, getting a little stronger. I even got him to perch today.
Update, 7/23/11, 5:30 AM – I woke up early as I often do, and my curiosity about the little bird drove me out of bed. He’s still there! And you know what? He really recognizes me – it’s so sweet… but it does worry me a little. I worry that he’ll stick around and NOT fly away. I also hope that he has the opportunity to fly away before another animal finds him.
Update, 7/23/11, 9:00 PM – Today was a big day because we were gone all day and he’s still here. He figured out how to eat all the berries I left him – awesome. And, I took him over to one of the berry bushes where I’ve been collecting the berries and let him perch there for awhile. He definitely took notice of the berries and was reaching for them… but hasn’t figured out how to grab one yet. It has been four days now and he’s progressing nicely – it makes me very happy.
Update, 7/25/11, 12:30 PM – My little friend was flying some distance yesterday – across the yard to the woodpile, and high up in the tree. I let him perch there for awhile… but it was high, so I got a ladder and rescued him. He has been watching us as we move around the yard… wanting to go where we go… so I put him on my shoulder and he stayed! I think he feels cozy and safe there. I keep taking him back over to the berry bush where I collect for him so he can see where his food comes from – he’s still reaching for them. I thought he “flew the coop” last night because when I came out to water the garden, he was nowhere in sight – the boys and I walked the backyard looking for him, but no bird. I was really sad but thought maybe he was ready. BUT THEN around 10:00 when Scott took the boys out to do their biz before bed, he yelled “Heather, I think the boys found your bird!” Scott grabbed a flashlight and I raaaaaaaaaaced outside. Sure enough… there was my baby bird in the weeds under the tree where my dogs pee. Joy!!! It’s possible one of the dogs peed on him? But they are bird dogs, so I prefer to think they sniffed him out! They are my heroes!!
Scott gave our little friend a name last night – Zorro! It’s perfect! I love it!
Zorro stayed all night in the little nest that I made. We hung out for awhile this morning… but I haven’t seen him in a few hours… he must be out testing his wings.
7/25/11, 9:00 PM – It poured this afternoon and when I went to check on Zorro after the storm, poor thing looked like a drowned rat. The weather has been so nice since I found him that I didn’t even think about rain. So I carried Zorro with me when I took the boys for their afternoon walk so he could dry off and see a bit of the world. 🙂 I got him to eat a few chopped up worms, although after 5, 6, 7 bites… he kind of got the chills and was so happy to eat more berries! I built him a shelter with a fresh dog hair nest within and he slept in there for awhile…. but when I just went out to check on him, he was gone. The dogs and I frantically searched for him, but all I found was a giant toad. Zorro, please come back in the morning. 😦
7/26/11, 9:00 AM – Relief! Zorro came back and I have finally identified him – a baby Cedar Waxwing! He is already a cute baby bird, but he is going to be a gorgeous adult. According to my Eastern Birds field guide, by James Coe – Sleek & crested with a distinctive black mask, has a yellow band on the tip of the tail. The name refers to small, waxy, red tips on the wing feathers. Common in semi-open country. Waxwings are highly gregarious, rarely seen singly (hopefully he finds some buddies when he flies away). Large nomadic flocks feed on berries in winter. Unique high, lisping calls.
7/27/11, 10:00 AM – Zorro had a rough night. As he has done the past few night, he has flown off somewhere, to someplace I can only assume, he feels safe. But this morning he did not return to the little home I made for him. I searched for him and couldn’t find him. I was worried. I started to head out for my morning walk with the boys, when there, in the middle of the backyard, I saw him in the grass. He was soaked and chirping and he didn’t look good. He must have had a tussle with some animal in the middle of the night because he has a small wound on the right side of his head, feathers matted from blood, and he was keeping his right eye shut. I carried him with us on the walk for comfort and warmth. I fed him berries when we returned. Then I put him in his nest so he could sleep for awhile. And then with a wet cloth, I cleaned his wound. I also pulled two long pieces of fur from his eye – hopefully, that was the only cause for his eye irritation. I also can also only assume that the fur is from whatever animal he had a run-in with last night and not from his nest because he was fine before he flew off for the night. As his adoptive mom, I want to protect him… but he will also need to be on his own at some point, so I need to allow him that freedom to go where he will on his own.
7/28/11, 8:00 AM – Zorro Died. He did not survive the injury he sustained when he ventured out the night of July 26. I gently cleaned his wound several times throughout the day yesterday and he seemed to be faring ok – his usual self – eating, chirping, flying. But I did not want him to fly off again last night so I created a nest for him with a towel in a box on its side, inside the gazebo. I had an awful night sleep last night worrying about him – woke up at least five times. When I went out to get him at 5:00 AM he was not doing well – no chirping, only wheezing – his throat had swelled from the injury and he couldn’t close his right eye. He was lethargic and shivering. I held him for an hour with a water bottle under my shirt and again, carried him with me on our morning walk. I held him again for an hour when we got back. I told Scott I don’t think he is going to make it and he said “Well, you’ve done more for him than his mother.” And I cried. He was getting weaker. I held him on his back and he just laid there. I put saline drops in his poor dried out eye. He hadn’t had food or water since last evening so I dipped my finger in water and put the droplet to his barely open beak. It was obvious he was not going to make it, but the water droplet was a mistake – he had a quick burst of energy – like a stretch – and then the life went out of him. I held him awhile longer to be sure that he had passed. Then I dug a hole under the bush where he has been living for the past week, wrapped him and buried him. Again, I cried. I am heartbroken. I miss my little friend Zorro already.