Saturday, July 9, 2011

Baby Starlings Thrown Out of Their Nest--A New Found Love

June 21, 2011
One hot summer day, my husband and I were marking where to dig holes to plant willow trees. We had just finished marking the front yard when my 2-year-old son seemed to just be staring at the ground. He wouldn’t move. We were getting ready to walk to the backyard and I called him to come with us. Without even looking up, he said as he pointed, “What’s dat?” I saw something pink and very small moving around on the ground. As I looked closer, I saw that it was a baby bird. He didn’t even have any feathers. I felt so sorry for the poor thing. It was so hot outside, so I knew he needed to get something to hydrate him. I brought him into the house and put him in a little box with toilet paper in it. I’ve never seen a bird so young.

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My husband made a corn meal mix with water and found a syringe to feed it to him. It was getting stuck in the syringe and not working well. Plus, I thought corn meal wasn’t very healthy for him. I had seen his parents bringing worms to the nest, so I set out to find worms. I found many and put them in a container with dirt and fed one or two baby worms to the bird. I thought, “There must be something else I could feed this bird since he’s so small.” And I wasn’t about to mash up the worms. Yuck! So I began to search the internet and came across a website, starlingtalk.net, that is loaded with information about what to do when you find a baby bird, particularly Starlings and Sparrows. Sadly, their message board has been shut down.

The first thing I found out was that I’m not supposed to feed them earthworms because they could have parasites in them that they could give to the bird. Water-soaked dog food, boiled eggs, and fruit is a good start. And they eat every 15-30 minutes from sunrise to sunset. Yikes! No wonder most baby birds die when they are found. How are we supposed to know they eat so much?!
So I boiled some eggs and soaked some dog food. I used tweezers to feed him. The bird ate it pretty well, but not as well as I’d thought he should. The website said that I should try to put the baby bird back in it’s nest because the best care is from the parents. So I got a ladder and looked where the hole in the eaves were and saw that the nest was at least three feet away from the hole. There was no way I could reach the nest, so this bird was dependent upon me.
June 22, 2011
The next day, my mom came over and as she was getting out of the car, I saw a bird by the opening of the eaves. I pointed to it to show my mom where the nest was. That’s when I saw the bird toss something out of its mouth. It looked like a peach maple leaf. I went to investigate and saw that it was a baby bird even smaller than the one I had found the day before! I couldn’t believe what I’d seen. So I kept a close eye on that area on the ground. When I put the two birds together, it was like there was competition to eat, so the first bird ate a lot better than before. They snuggled together and seemed to do better together. The amazing thing about these tiny newborn birds is that when they had to go poop, they backed up to the edge of their nest that I made them, then pooped, then went back to the middle of the nest. This lasted about the first two weeks.

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About an hour later, I went to see if there were any more birds. Sure enough, there was another one about the same size as the first one. Then about an hour later, I asked my daughter to look if there were any more. Yep, there was another one. This one wasn’t moving as the others were. It was huddled up under the ladder, and he was a little bigger than the others. As I took them in, I noticed that that one had what looked like a hurt leg. It was quite a bit higher than the other leg, as though it was dislocated at the hip. When he was down and trying to move, he went in circles because he wouldn’t really use that one leg. I was really worried about him, but there wasn’t much I could do for him. His beak was also misaligned.
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I had realized that each bird was dragged probably by the leg three feet before being tossed to the ground and that’s probably how his leg got hurt. Sad smile
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I looked on starlingtalk.net to see how old the birds were. Comparing photos of birds from hatching to about three weeks, I figured the youngest one was only 2 days old when I’d found him. The next one was 3 days, the next one was 4 days, and the oldest with the hurt leg was 5 days. Whenever my kids screamed, the birds would instantly open their mouths to be fed. So when I set the timer to feed them every 15 minutes, if they didn't open their mouths, I had my daughter screech like a bird and it worked. This only lasted the first week and a half or two weeks that I had them.

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Every day the birds change a lot in appearance. I can’t believe how much they grow.
June 23, 2011 – The youngest is 3 days old.
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June 25, 2011 – The youngest is 5 days old.
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June 26, 2011 – The youngest is 6 days old.
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June 27, 2011 – The youngest is 7 days old.
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June 29, 2011 – The youngest is 9 days old.
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June 30, 2011 – The youngest is 10 days old. They started migrating to the corner. One bird would go there, then the others would follow, so I moved their “nest” to the corner.
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Doing their leg stretches! LOL
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Funny “Larry-from-the-three-stooges Hair”
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July 2, 2011 – The youngest is 12 days old and I’ve been noticing that his feathers are not developing like the others’ feathers are, as shown in the first three photos below. I hope nothing is wrong with him. From day one, he’s been the best eater. I even nick-named him Oinker. The others look so much alike now, that I have a hard time telling them apart. The oldest that had a misaligned beak and hurt leg no longer has a misaligned beak and he’s doing well with his leg, walking normal.
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Here are the other three that look healthy and I can’t hardly tell them apart:
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