Monday, 10 June 2013

Great guessing game

I have a form that get's filled out for each animal who arrives here. The top half by the person who brings the animal and the bottom half by me. Often there is a discrepancy between species in the top half and the bottom half.

Never more so than when it involves baby birds. It is a great guessing game to figure out what these little naked, beaked creatures are going to turn into. The external differences between species is often minor. It's a little easier when some of the feathers grow in.

Most of the time it's the usual suspects who arrive, Starlings, Sparrows or Robins, but to keep me on my toes from time to time an unusual one get's thrown in the mix.
Starlings are easy to recognize

Their mouths open so wide and they are never satiated

They usually end up wearing as much food as they eat


A while ago somebody brought me a a box with some little fuzzy bird babies. Their 15 year old son shot and killed the parents with a pellet gun and later realized there was baby birds in the nest and felt bad.

I was a little disgruntled because the parents put it of with a 'Boys will be boys'. I found that extremely unsatisfying particularly because it was believed the birds involved where Barn Swallows. 

Barn Swallows as part of the Swift family are very difficult to hand raise. They need to eat every 20 minutes and eat strictly bugs. Once flighted they can only eat while flying. They fly with their mouth open and catch bugs that way. They also don't perch like most birds do, but need to hang (more or less).

Guess what we are?
I thought they resembled Swallows, but not really. It soon became apparent they where not Swallows at all.
Feathers are coming in

Their feathers had a variegated pattern on it and their bellies where starting to fill in with yellowish feathers. Lucky for me I can always count on some of my very experienced wildlife rehabber friends. Judi Drake who runs Songbird Only Avian Rehabilitation is a songbird expert and the best person to help identify these little creatures.  I sent her some pictures and she said Eastern Phoebe.

Luckily Eastern Phoebe's are also insect eaters and at least I had been feeding them properly.

No yet ready to fly, but close
Yesterday after several weeks of feeding them non-stop and literally thousands of meal worms and crickets later they where ready to take flight. What an exciting moment to see them fly around and catch bugs. Sorry, I have no pictures. They are way to quick to take a proper picture of.

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