Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Bird in Hand. . . Part II

This is a continuation of my story from April 28: "Rescue Me . . .  Part I"

What to do with a baby robin, in hand, when it is freezing cold and all its little mites have run up your wrists, and your mean old cat has killed the mom . . . leaving the dad to feed and care for the rest of the family on his own - ? 

Well first you call the Audobon Society to find out what to do . .. "Give it damp cat food or egg yolk . . . . and do NOT give it milk. Find its nest and put it back." OOOOKAAY!  Cat food I had aplenty . . . so I used the handle of a yellow plastic spoon to poke some cat food down his big open beak . . . and he ate plenty. I also held him until he felt as warm as he should.

I spent that evening and night looking for his nest . ..  because he cried . .  loudly!  I saw an old bird's nest in the same tree so I climbed it and put him in that . . . but there he was even more lonely and his father, in his comings and goings with food for the brood, ignored his cries . . . It was so sad looking at that little bird watching his dad going back and forth with mouthfuls of food and disappearing deep into the shadows of that persimmon tree . . . The baby's eyes glittering hopefully and his cries becoming louder and more desperate . . . and the sun was starting to go down.

I watched the father closely and tried to guess where the nest was . . . I would climb the tree and perch on a limb (and I am afraid of heights) and watch for any movement or deeper shadows where a nest might be . .  As it got darker and darker I climbed further up the tree, thinking I would be able to find the nest (how hard can it be?) but I was never able to find it. I had to retrieve Baby because his cries were so piteous and he wasn't stopping . . . I will never forget that enormous voice that came out of that little thing . . . so I climbed back down the tree with a re-chilled baby bird and took him inside where I found a box, some materials for a nest and fed him once more before calming him down enough to get him to sleep . . . I was definitely a robin mother.  I put Baby's container in the kitchen and locked the doors against that naughty cat, Bear.

Well, days went by and I was busy. . . We didn't have the Internet in those days so I spent much of my free time scouring the library and watching the other robins. ..  trying to figure out what to do with this little critter. I kept him supplied with cat food but I knew that wasn't going to be good enough as time went on. 

The cats were angry at me . ..  they couldn't figure out why I wouldn't allow them into the kitchen .. . and one day Bear snuck in . ..  and with one claw snagged a feather off the chest of the bird right over his heart. When that feather grew back it was pure white and remained so for the rest of the summer.

To feed Baby I got some big trays and filled them with soil from the garden . . . I watered the yard daily for hours and at night I went out with a flashlight and a big jar and captured the night-crawlers. These are some pretty big and strong worms. Some fishing folk told me about this trick. How to sneak up on them with the flashlight because they are laying outside their tunnels, socializing and relaxing by the light of the moon. My hands would get all slimy and sticky from handling these guys. They always kept their hind-ends hooked to the mouth of their tunnels and when they sensed my presence they would retreat into the safety of their cave faster than I can blink. If I was able to grab hold of one I had to tug fast and contend with this amazing strength .  .  . but I was always able to capture quite a few by the end of the night.

I would put the worms in the trays of soil which I kept moist and when Baby was hungry I would make a big deal out of capturing a worm and pounding it like I noticed the parents did . . . before cramming it down his wide open beak . . 

I took Baby outside, one day, to see if he was ready to go . .  He did fly off to a neighbor's tree where he started to cry. He cried the rest of the day and into the night . . . where I finally left him since he was afraid of the cats (rightly so) and he wouldn't come back to me. The next day I went back outside with his old feeding spoon and he flew right down to my head. I took him back inside and gave him the house to fly in until he was ready to go. 

I watched the robins constantly and since my yard was the dampest in town the robins came often to find food. Eventually I put one of the worm trays outside where I attracted a large number of hungry robins, including a huge flock of youth, about the age of Baby. I took him outside to join his relatives and I always recognized him with his white feather over his heart. He would come down and land on my head if I called him but one day he wouldn't come near me . .  he was now a free, wild creature . ..  hanging out with his buddies and foraging for food for himself . .  Eventually as Fall approached and there were berries and other robin food the flock of youth stopped coming by and I lost sight of my baby robin . . .

But this was an experience. I was successful at raising him but it was so much hard work. It dominated my days and nights and I was glad when it was over. 

Here is a link to a great site which provides tons of information regarding the American Robin . ..  how to help an orphaned one and everything you could possibly wish to know in regards to these cheerful little birds.  I adore robins and look forward to hearing their vocalizations in the early spring . . .


Hours of excellent music to play and relax to . . . just simply good flowing ambient to calm your wild child . ..The Music is good and there is lots of it:


Anonymous said...

I sure love your writing and your photographs Barbara! I often check in just to relax for a few moments and see what you've added.
We're packing to leave at dawn tomorrow for the Strawberry music fest near Yosemite. I don't have time for this today... but couldn't stop reading your Robin story until I finished and then I had to comment! You're such a sweet Robin Mother! I hope to meet you in person one day!
Thanks again for being there.
xo Lindalou

Wolfsong said...

Thank you Lindalou . . that is so kind of you to say. Have a good time at the festival and enjoy your music making . . . I know you will! That Strawberry music festival sounds very nice!
I think we will get a chance to meet someday . . . if you ever get to Portland let me know and I will make sure we get that chance . . We have some great music festivals here too . ..