|Bird Interrupted

20140703_111326On my walk this morning, I found a baby bluejay with a broken leg (picture 1). I went home and got a shoe box and a towel to retrieve it. When I got back to it 10 or 15 minutes later, it started screaming as I picked it up. I was too gentle, and it got away. All the while, it’s parents were screeching at me from the branches above. I couldn’t see a nest.

Since the parents were still involved, I wondered what I should do, so I posted my question on Facebook. Helpful people gave me instructions, and after reading more about bluejays online, I went back and picked up the little creature. This time it didn’t put up any fight, so I feared it might not make it (picture 2).

I didn’t have a dropper, so I P1170110soaked a rag and dripped water into its mouth (video). Thankfully it perked up with the water. And it even ate a few small crickets I caught outside, but it wouldn’t eat a grasshopper or another little bug.

I tried to contact a few places listed on the state DNR wildlife rescue webpage. I finally got a hold of someone who referred me to the lady who eventually said she could help. She (Teresa) said she can usually fix a broken leg and release the birds when they’re mature enough.  [continues below]

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Stabilizing the hurt leg with tape before being wrapped with green gauze.

When we got there, Teresa dusted it, gave it some pain killer and then fed it. Next she had me hold it so she could work on his leg. It was broken in a good spot on the thigh where it should heal fairly easily. 20140703_173944I held Li’l Buddy while she taped and then wrapped his leg (picture 3 above). Once it was all bandaged up, it snuggled quietly into its pink nest (picture 4).

It was feeding time (every hour, 12 hours a day), so we got to help. I held a baby morning dove while she fed others in its cage. Then Teresa had me hold two different starlings so she could cut off their foot and leg bandages.

She had all kinds of other birds too–a black-throated blue warbler, five flickers, a downy woodpecker, two wrens, two swallows, two rose-breasted grosbeaks, and a bunch of others. She showed us the stages of care, as they heal, develop and prepare for release. Most impressive. She had a few bluejays in her outdoor aviary that were almost ready for release, and I thought this little guy could be just like them before long.

Teresa cares for about 250 birds a year. Approximately 200 of these can be released into the wild after they’ve been rehabilitated. The remaining 50 cannot be released for various reasons, so she works to find other homes for them. I didn’t know much about wildlife rescue and rehabilitation before this, so I was thankful to the person on Facebook who told me to look for one in my area. I hope you’ll do the same if you come across an injured animal. And another friend heard about this bird and told me she volunteered with a rehabilitation facility for two years. I think I might look into this.

Teresa has this quote from Gandhi on her wall: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” And her business card has this Bible verse: “God knows even when a sparrow falls. Matthew 10:29, Luke 12:6.”

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Baby morning dove. And my grandpa’s old shirt.

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