And eventually they fly! Such a great moment! I will keep their cage open and let them fly around while I take care of all the other animals. When I released the 4 pictured below they would spend the day in the Wild Things woods and then come back at night. So amazing to see them flying back to WTS after their day exploring. These little guys took a lot of time and effort to raise, but definitely paid me back emotionally! :)
One of the mourning doves who arrived had a "sour crop." The crop is an area where food is stored and then it slowly passes into the next area of their digestive organs. Food can get stuck in the crop and then starts rotting. I had to flush out this poor little one's crop over the course of about 24 hours. This was done by filling up the crop with water, squishing it's contents around, and then using a tube to suck stuff out. It was gross and so traumatic for such a tiny little 14g patient. But the little one did great and was eating again in no time!
A bit after I let these 4 go a baby Rock Dove (i.e., pigeon) turned up, and the next day another baby mourning dove arrived. Because the two species are closely related I put them together and they became fast friends. They had to sit side by side every minute and were eventually released together. It is important for animals to be together so they can recognize their own species and not bond with their human caretaker. I don't always put different species together as I don't want them to be confused as to what species they are and then end up not being able to mix with their own species once released, but I have no doubt that these two will be just fine as they are so closely related and other more experienced rehabilitators have done the same thing with great success. And most importantly neither ended up imprinted on me.
And below are pictures of a few more Wild Things patients. Clockwise from upper left, 2 little European Starlings, a baby European Sparrow, a Snowy Owl, a tiny little House Wren, a young American crow, and an American Goldfinch fledgling. The top two are introduced species from Europe and do not belong in the US. They pose a problems for native birds- competing for nesting sites, but what are you oinf to do when a helpless little baby comes to you?! Its suffering and it needs help! The sparrow and goldfinch very sadly did not make it. They were both at a really difficult age, the fledgling age, when they don't trust humans but they aren't ready to be on their own yet. They were both SO adorable and I was sorry to lose them.
The young crow (NB: the blue eyes and red mouth characteristic of young crows- the red mouth helps draw attention to the parents that their baby is hungry and begging for food!) was a hge success. It had broke both wings as a baby and no one thought it would fly again. Off it went to my friend Gabe's center. She is a miracle worker with birds, and it ended up flying just fine. It came back to me to be Xrayed at Cornell. The Xrays revealed that the wings had healed perfectly. There was worry that as this little one had been surrounded by humans for its whole life it would be irreversibly imprinted on humans, however after a couple of weeks at Wild Things it decided to go off and live in the Wild Things woods. There are lots of crows in the WTS woods and I hope that it found a great group to be with.
And the Snowy Owl was a bit of a mystery. Gabe got a few of them this year, which is strange as they are supposed to be up north hunting. It was found very underweight and had a smallish abscess on its wing, but ended up doing just fine and was released successfully. I was just a taxi driver for it, bringing it from the Cornell Wildlife Clinic back up to Gabe's center (about 2 hours away, we meet half way for lunch!) after a few Xrays and blood tests.
Wow- I was going to keep going with a few more stories of the Wild Things' winged characters, but I will leave a few for later. Time to go feed the patients! But look out for more blog posts soon- won't let it go for another 2 1/2 months again!