Saturday, July 15, 2017

Can't Save Them All

When I arrived on the job today, one of my co-workers, a sensitive artistic woman, greeted me with a dilemma... she had found a distrait bird in front of our main building. Acting on the instinct of providing a 'nest' for an injured bird, she had placed it in a cardboard box lined with paper towels:

The bird, a white-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) looked to be in rough shape. It had a tendency to shiver and to occasionally flop over. My friend had called a couple of wildlife rehabilitators to ask for assistance, but had to leave messages with them because they were unavailable. I took the box with the bird from her (I am fond of nuthatches, they are comical little birds which often climb head downward along one of our wooden outbuildings, looking for tasty bugs) and tried to figure out how best to deal with the little thing. I figured I'd see if I could get it to drink from a drip-feeder improvised from a wet paper towel (having no eyedropper in my office) and eat a bit of cat-kibble (not having sunflower seeds or peanuts available). Sadly, the bird expired while I was trying to figure out how to provide sustenance for it.

About an hour after she had left, my co-worker returned to see how the bird was doing- the whole situation weighed on her so much that she had to return to see how the bird was doing. I broke the bad news to her, and then we had a talk about how birds which have ended up on the ground are often sick to begin with. I told her that she had done everything correctly to the best of her knowledge, and how I had tried to get some water and food into the bird. She had heard back from one of the rehabilitation experts, who pretty much told her the same thing I did, even down to the whole 'try to feed it sunflower seeds or cat food' bit. This is a prime season for animal injuries, so all of the local wildlife rehabilitation experts have their hands full. My friend is an idealistic woman, but she's also a realist, so she took the news of the bird's death in stride... she did a yeoperson's job, but even a yeoperson can't save them all.

1 comment:

BigHank53 said...

That's rough, but birds are so delicate. I read somewhere that if there's a break in the bird's skin it's almost certainly a goner; any kind of infection will kill them. I provided hospice care for a bluejay fledgling one of the outdoor cats had tackled a few years back, which wasn't much fun. Last year we kept the cats locked up when the jay fledglings were doing a terrible job of learning to fly. All three of the kids made it, which is an amazing success rate--jays usually have one chick survive every year.

In slightly more cheerful news, last week I trapped a feral kitten that was scrounging birdseed off the ground underneath the feeders. I'm guessing it's about seven weeks, young enough to rehab, and I've already gotten it to appreciate scritchies and tummy rubs. Last major hurdle is picking it up without it freaking out.