Friday, June 29, 2007

Rescue Attempt

Our cats are good hunters -- much to our dismay. Boo has been known to present us with full-grown birds, moles and other "trophies," while Bailey, Boo's pupil, has only brought us spiders, moths and other insects.

Until this evening. An hour ago I noticed Baily batting something around on the diningroom floor. I was disheartened to realize that she had obviously robbed a nest and had stolen a very (very!) tiny baby bird. The bird looked dead to me so I carefully wrapped it in a napkin and placed it in the garbage can. What else could I do?

Bailey sniffed around furiously for a few minutes, obviously confused (and pissed), and then left, heading outside again. Not more than 10 minutes later, she came back -- with another baby bird! I feel horrible that I allowed her to go outside again; I obviously wasn't thinking... and I really didn't believe that she'd remember, head right back to the scene of the crime and commit the same crime (OK, follow the same instinct) again.

Fortunately, Kat and I intervened immediately this time and scooped the baby bird immediately into a napkin. We allowed Bailey out again, but only to lead us to the nest so we could put the baby bird back. She went into the forest and proceeded to climb a tree... then another... and another. We couldn't see a nest in any of them.

We decided to take the bird back inside and at least keep it warm, so we placed it in soft towels and pulled a lamp close to it. At this moment I realized that perhaps the first baby bird hadn't been dead after all -- so I reached into the garbage can where I had gently placed the bird, loosely wrapped in a napkin. I carefully unwrapped the napkin and, although Baily had definitely bitten into the bird (there was a small gash on the bird's side that was bleeding), it was alive and breathing.

I placed the first bird, which was larger but more injured, next to the second bird, which was smaller, but uninjured. Then Kat and I did some research on what to do with tiny baby birds and found some informative resources as well as a recipe for baby bird food (cat food, applesauce, a multi-vitamin and a hard-boiled egg, all mashed together).

Kat made some baby bird food (a full cup of it!) and we were both somewhat surprised when the smaller baby squirmed back and forth energetically and then opened its beak wide open and practically swallowed the syringe! (The bigger bird will almost surely die of its injuries; it can hardly move.)

We'll keep the birds in the bathroom overnight, hoping that at least one will be alive in the morning and that maybe, just maybe, we can nurse it back to health. We don't have particularly high hopes, but we'll do what we can.

We can't very well punish Bailey for following her cat instincts, but I wish she'd stuck with insects!

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Anonymous said...

I hate, hate, hate that part of having cats! Fortunately, ours seem to have given up the hunting, maybe because one is too old (16 years) and the other is too fat. Good luck on the baby birds; I remember my mother trying to raise baby birds when I was a child. She never did succeed, but tried every year nonetheless. She had such a heart of gold and it would tear her up when didn't succeed.

Goofball said...

oh wow, what a story! I hope you succeed, but I fear it is a hopeless battle. Good luck with it nevertheless!! keep us up to date.

Carol said...

The bigger bird died shortly after I posted. But the baby lasted through the night (with feedings every 45 minutes!). This morning, by 10:00 he had stopped opening his mouth for food, but he was still alive. Kat put him in a tuft of grasses and dirt in the crook of some branches in a tree, hoping the mom found him, but fairly certain she didn't.

Neither of us have the heart to go look...

Tom has such empathy that he couldn't even look at the baby bird. Those things REALLY bother him. (He cant even watch shows like American Idol, where someone gets "voted off"!) Maybe his apprehension to care for a bird or watch someone get heartbroken is no measure... but I truly fear that if I get sick he couldn't handle it. I KNOW that anything happening to one of the kids would completely do him in.

And yet, he rides a scary cycle. Go figure!


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