Baby Bird

As described on the Our Story page, Baby Bird came to me at the age of about 4 days old.  She was pink with a few pin feathers coming in on her wings.  She had a severely infected right eye and mangled crooked legs. Realizing immediately that she was here to stay, my hand became her favorite napping nest, and once she started eating on her own, Special K cereal, bagels, and cream cheese became her favorite foods.   She took baths in her little yellow bowl, she took naps in my hand and tucked in my fleece jacket, and she skillfully flew around our living room and kitchen area despite losing her right eye.  Like most birds, she was set in her ways and did not adapt well to changes like a new chair in the living room, a change in the type of cereal, or the location of her favorite perch.  

Three and a half years ago, after a long illness, it seemed that it was time to let her go peacefully.  She was in constant pain and her quality of life was fading.  But when it came time for the final decision, her desire to have breakfast with me was so strong that we changed course, changed her medications, and added road trips to her list of favorite activities.  
Baby Bird has come on countless trips with me to other states over the past 3 1/2 years.  She travels in a tiny carrier which has become her regular sleeping spot as well.  When in the car, she chirps to old Beatles music.  She demands that I sit with her late in the evening for her bowl of organic multigrain cereal with almond milk.  And then she goes to sleep in her little carrier snuggled in for the night.  She stays up late and likes to sleep in in the morning.  She's as connected to me as any dog I've ever had and she is one of the most pleasant, precious, and special little creatures I could ever wish to spend so much time with.    



Sunny was brought to a nearby wildlife rehab center as a nestling along with a few other baby sparrows in July, 2010.  She was raised for release but she was lame on her right leg due to a previously broken toe.  She was also extremely focused on being fed by a human (imprinted as could be) so she was not released.  I took her home when she was 5 weeks old.  From the day I met her, she was food driven, independent but affectionate, and extremely bossy.  My sweet Stevie was seriously ill and Sunny was supposed to be her "replacement".  As it turned out, thankfully, Stevie survived, and when I tried to add Sunny to the outdoor bird house with Stevie and Betty, Sunny insisted on attacking the two older birds.  
Needless to say, Sunny moved back into the house, into her own small room (my office) with a hamster who she loved sharing sunflower seeds with. Since she was sunflower seed obsessed, I named her Sunny.  She has enjoyed having me to herself for most of her "in my house" years.  She loves to sit on the window sill at night, on her very old tie die shirt kit box, and on her ceramic mug next to her picture frame and Charles Darwin book.  She pecked the bird's picture off the cover of the book.  She is completely obsessed with meal worms so she has her very own meal worm farm in a box in her room.  
She is a great office bird.  She loves the computer and sits in my hand or under my chin when I sit at my desk.  She has had to share her room with a long term visitor, Benny, a few years ago, and then with Betty and Stevie over last winter.  She has mellowed some since she was a baby so things worked out fine.  She is always happy when the visitors leave.

Now she shares her room with precious blind boy bird Willie.   



Willie is a little male, totally blind house sparrow who was presumably hand raised by a rehabber a couple of years ago.  Sadly, she passed away and left him to another rehabber, who then passed him on to yet another rehabber.  He came to live with me in May 2014.  

Since he came with no history or records, it's been an interesting road trying to figure out what works best for Willie.  There's no question that he had been handled in a kind compassionate way.  He is sweet, affectionate, and engaging.  He loves to be petted, massaged, and hand-hugged as long as his feet are on a perch or the floor of his cage.  Slowly he's trusting enough to hop on my finger where he sits and gets petted.  Now he'll even come out of the cage sitting on my finger when he's very relaxed.  He enjoys the buffet he is served numerous times a day.  He uses his beak to tap around in front and to his sides when he moves around the cage.  It's a tiny cage but I've added different perches, small bowls, and a pecking type of stone.  Of course, he knows where his food and water dishes are and he alternates between eating and sitting in his seeds.   I have only heard Willie chirp a couple of times.  There's no question he is interested in interacting and engaging with me when I come in to feed him and work in the bird's room.  He is a beautiful sweet soul.  When I got the call asking me to take him in, I reluctantly said ok.  But when I met my precious little Willie, I immediately realized that he belonged here in my sparrow house.  





Stevie was brought to the animal hospital when she was about 6 days old in May 2008.  No information was left about where she was found or how long she had been cared for.  A vet friend took care of her for 2 days.  By the time I met her, her name was Steven, and she was enjoying the attention and food all the techs were showering her with, all day long.  She was completely imprinted on humans, and she was determined to be with people every minute of the day. I took her home with the sincere intention of bringing her straight to the wildlife rehab center where I was hoping she would go back to being a bird.  I had her in a box, in a bag, for transport.  But family obligations got in the way, and by the time I could take her up there, we had fallen in love with her and it was obvious that she truly was imprinted.  Imprinted birds do no do well when released. 

I got her an available sister sparrow who was exactly the same age.  I figured that I'd try to do a soft release and needed at least another bird to go out with Stevie. Stevie had a 4 hour tizzy, standing in her box away from Betty, as if the new bird friend was invading her wonderful life.   

Eventually the babies bonded into an adorable pair.  They learned to fly, together, slept snuggled together, and shared food, attention, and activity. Since there was no place for them to live in my house, we had a beautiful outdoor aviary constructed for them  It had to be predator proof and it had to have heat in the winter.  Most importantly, it had to be spacious enough for them to fly free, and for me to sit and visit with them.  

The Bird House has turned out to be a wonderful living environment for "the girlitas".  They enjoy the sunshine, warm and cold breezes, the sounds of the outddors, great buffet meals, and visits with their mom, me.  

In July 2010, Stevie got very ill due to an egg that was stuck.  After weeks of lubricants, metacam, clavamox, and alot of worry, she was still swollen and straining.  I brought her to a very special zoo and bird veterinarian friend who collapsed the egg with a needle.  This alleviated the pressure in her abdomen and allowed her to eventually pass the egg shell.  

In anticipation of losing her, I adopted 5 week old Sunny so that Betty wouldn't be alone.  Fortunately, Stevie survived the egg ordeal.  When I brought Sunny out to be with the girls in the Bird House, Sunny only wanted to chase them and have bird brawls.  So, Sunny moved back into her room, and the girls kept their calm and happy Bird House to themselves.  



Betty was brought to the local wildlife rehab center as a tiny nestling in May, 2008.  She was being raised for release but her path was changed when she joined Stevie.  My original intention was to raise them for a soft release in my backyard but quickly it became apparent that Stevie was imprinted to the point that she would not do well in the wild.  So, the bonded pair spent their first summer and winter in a small shower room flying free during the day.  They slept in their cage at night.  We established their various morning and evening rituals while they were in the house.  In the spring of 2009, they moved into their outdoor Bird House.  It was a big transition for them as they had to adjust to new climate, new sounds, and a new set of perches.  They maintained their regular feeding schedule and bedtime routine, and they continued to enjoy my visits.  
Betty is a comical bird.  She loves to chatter, especially in the springtime. She is an alarmist to the point that she wouldn't come near me for weeks when I got new eye glasses. A new black shirt with pink lettering sent her into a tailspin, and when I put on snow boots in the winter she becomes hysterical.  A winter parka is a big problem for Betty so I only wear my light fleece jackets out to the bird house all winter.  

The Bird House morning ritual starts with my handfeeding scrambled or hard boiled eggs and mealworms (when available) to both birds.  Then they have more eggs, lettuce, kale, and other greens, on the bench.  The remainder of the egg/lettuce meal is in a jar top which goes into the cage. In the summer they like their millet sprinkled on the bench towel, and in the winter it goes into the cage where the heater is on and takes the edge off the cold.  They take baths in their bathing bowls which are placed on the bench during the warm months.  They have their afternoon carrots and apples on the bench and in the open cage.  In the evening, they roost on the door where I find them waiting for me to hold them in my hands before I put them on their respective perches in the cage for the night.  The cage gets covered with a sheet in the summer and fleece in the winter.  When it gets frigid and unbearable, or if there is a big storm, they come into the house temporarily.

The Girlitas have the best of all worlds.  They have each other, they love people, they love the outdoors, and they love being pampered.