Friday, May 1, 2009

Rooting for unlikely candidates

When I was young, I always knew the signs of spring and summer. Besides the trees and flowers blooming, it was also the time where various baby animals were seen. There were many times my mother and I found baby birds who'd fallen from their nest, young blue jays who came into the house, baby squirrels whose home had been destroyed by the demolishment of their tree and mother, baby garter snakes our cats brought in, and young bats which flew in (that was actually fall but still fits this theme of baby animals).

Each of these animals, we either put in their appropriate places, rescued them, or gave them to the wildlife center to rehabilitate, a place where we volunteered in transportation. Sadly, none of them made it. The newborn squirrels left the most impression on me. They were only a few days old, naked and blind, easily fitting into the palm of my tiny hand. Without the knowledge these were squirrels, they could have easily been mistaken for newborn pandas. When they died, I held a funeral for them and buried them near the site of the fallen tree.

Today's adventures reminded me of those sweet childhood moments. While at work, I decided to work with Tovah in the neighbor's yard. I like to practice recalls there, hiding behind trees and bushes. As we were walking around a pine tree, suddenly, I saw three pink things. I took a closer look and realized they were very young baby birds! I looked around for a nest, but did not see one. I probably should not have, but I picked them up and was going to put them in a box to care for.


By this time, Tovah was incredibly curious. I told her she could look and to be "gentle." She did beautifully until she wasn't sure what they were, and then she barked at them. It was absolutely hilarious, but each time she barked, they squawked and opened their mouths.




After talking to my boss who I don't think realized how young they were and remembering that some mothers will find their young, I decided to put them back where I found them. Still, I was unsure, so I figured resident biologist Cammy would know what to do. We exchanged a few texts, and she told me the stark details that it was probably an unsalvageable situation and even if I took them in, they were likely not to make it.

I had this feeling, but by the end of the day, I decided to at least move them inside the pine tree since storms are predicted for the next three days. I figured the small chance they had to live, at least it was better in there than on the outer rim where rain would just beat down on them. I made a little "nest" out of some twigs I found and used some other plant material for padding. They did some content but very hungry.

When I finished up work, I decided to feed them some earthworms and water. I had to dig for these earthworms but managed to get two dozen or so. One by one, I fed each of them a worm. This proved to be much more difficult than I planned. They'd open their mouths, the worms would squiggle around and then just stayed there in a circle in their mouths. This reminded me of those incidents when people fall asleep with food in their mouths. I know at this early age the mothers usually regurgitate their food, but I was obviously not going to do this. Instead, I helped them by adding a few droplets of water, closing their beak, and soothing their throats. They only ate 4-5 a piece, so I hope that will be sufficient.

While I was doing all this, Tovah just sat and watched, no barking whatsoever. She even went up to them to nuzzle them. I truly love it when species of animals can learn to be gentle with one another, especially when one is a predator. It's a beautiful sight. Speaking of which, Tovah has also reminded me how well a dog's memory works. When I went to go feed the baby birds, she totally beelined to where we had found them. Yesterday, she also did something similar, but that post will be later.

I have no earthly idea whether these baby birds will make it. I know it's bleak, and who knows, they could be dead by tomorrow. But for some reason, just knowing that I did everything I could, gives me a sense of not just satisfaction or relief, but something else. I don't know the word to articulate it, and this sounds cheesy, but it's like smiling at myself sweetly.

I'm not really sure why I'm rooting so hard for these baby birds to make it. Maybe, it's because I know there is no one else to. This is when I hope nature decides not to takes its course but rather produce a miracle.

Note--*I'm sorry the image quality is less than stellar for these photos. I was using my camera phone which has not been upgraded yet.

11 comments:

Gwen said...

I'm reading this post wondering why I can't be more like you. I love the way you can see these events as positive experiences. If those animals had died on me as a child after I had nursed them I would have been devastated for days. I'm similar to you in that I have an affinity with animals and if I see an animal in distress I will try to help it. That doesn't happen very often, surprisingly.

I hope your baby birds make it, too. I'll say a little prayer for them tonight. I'm not sure God is even listening to me anymore, but I'll try.

Tiptoe said...

Gwen, thanks for your prayers. You never know who is listening really. I'll keep you posted as to what happens.

Thanks for the compliment. I think part of the reason why I have always been able to see the positive of these things is understanding how nature works, how we work. Ever since I was young, I understood the concepts of life and death easily, knowing that some would make it and others would not. I was certainly sad when animals I had helped died, but I always knew they went to better places. And I think that gave me the relief that I needed then and still believe in today.

Meryt Bast said...

A good informative article about raising baby birds:
http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=4576

Good luck.

Lisa said...

Whoa, those are some teensy critters! I wish you guys the best of luck - from the way you are with your dogs, I think they're in good hands.

Carrie Arnold said...

This reminds me of when a baby bird fell out of its nest onto our back porch when I was younger. I insisted to my mom that we take care of it. I was old enough at the time (13? 14?) to know that the bird wouldn't make it, but it was very hot out, and at least it had some water and a comfortable box before it died. My dad buried it out back and I cried a lot.

But it always gave me a lot of comfort that I helped make the bird's end a little easier. Whatever happens with your little birds, I hope you can remember that.

Gaining Back My Life said...

I think the simple act of trying lends to some form of comfort for us.

It's when we turn a blind eye to those who cannot fend for themselves that we need to question what lies deep within our soul.

I smiled throughout the story; thank you for sharing!

Cammy said...

Somehow, my dear, I anticipated this. ;) I was pessimistic yesterday, I didn't want to get you hopeful only to be disappointed, birds are tricky. But since we are now officially trying to save them, I am intrigued and will definitely keep up with how things are going (text me anytime!). The world would be a better place if more people were as compassionate as you!

Kim said...

Aww, I'm rooting for them too! I've had several nests over the years, and I get very attached to the baby birds. Not sure why. I think Tovah's behavior is so cute! You are really such a compassionate, caring person. The birdies are lucky, no matter what happens.

Tiptoe said...

Thank you for all your comments. I'll will update shortly.

Merty Bast, yes, I am using that site and another one.

PTC said...

Oh, those poor birdies. :(

PTC said...

I love how your dog was so gentle with them. Animals just know these things and I love seeing how animals of one kind will take care of another. I love animal stories.

I once tried to save a baby bird by giving it water and food so I can totally appreciate what you did for these birds. I think I care more about animals than people sometimes.