Fallen Baby Birds

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Hi, everyone! I really want to talk about something that happened recently on our farm that I know some people have experienced, even if they don’t live on a farm. It’s something that really tugs on maternal heart-strings and if one doesn’t know what to do, the scenario becomes quite nerve wrecking quickly.

Baby birds. The fact of the matter is they do fall out of nests. And some of them do indeed die. And it is gut wrenching. Since moving out here my emotional skin towards the circle of life has thickened, but I still cannot get over the loss of a child, even an animal. Even a wild animal.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

This is Taz. He’s a Weimaraner. And he steals babies. He has never hurt a baby animal, but he does take them home. Our first year out here he found a baby softshell. He brought it to the front door and I was able to move it to a safe location away from our huskies.

We’ve had him sit with sick baby goats so they don’t get lonely. He’s very loyal and stays close to anything in distress or ill. When I was nearing the end of both pregnancies, this dog was attached to the hip. When my husband used to work nights and we were alone, Taz would always be by my side and the first to stand guard when he’d come home, only to quickly return to a friendly stance once he knew it was just daddy coming home.

We got him right after my first miscarriage. He was attached to me from day one, but I think that’s just his temperament. He truly feels it’s his duty to help.

He’s also an idiot though and there is no doubt in my mind that he had some part to play in today’s events. I went out into our garage and there’s a small pile of old train tracks we had for trains that toddlers can ride on. My kids are too big for that so it’s just sitting there. I saw wings flutter to the top then just drop down. Next to the pile? Taz. “What the hell did you do?” I asked him and he wagged his tail. Jerk. About thirty minutes earlier I remember him hanging out by some of our trees and a mockingbird striking him. He didn’t even flinch. He just sat there. I hoped the thing could fly as I lifted the train tracks it was trapped in and all it did was hop. Crap. As it was hopping, Taz was trying to herd it back into the garage. Double crap.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

So I scooped the baby bird up. It had its flight feathers, but still some baby fluff. I looked at its face. It looked like a grumpy old man. The chirp it cried out only gave me the final confirmation I needed. Taz had abducted a baby mockingbird. I HATE those things. But, it was a scared baby. I went outside near the trees that Taz likes to hang out under looking for a nest. I was unable to find it. I saw a full-grown mockingbird watching me pretty closely, unusually quiet. I approached one particular tree that agitated the bird. It came swooping toward the tree and landed half a foot from my face. Judging by the size, it could very well have been the mother.

Because I have no shame in talking to animals like they’re humans I scolded the bird “You lost your kid. Seriously? Do you know that if one of the huskies got it, it would be dogfood right now?” The bird chirped angrily at me. I didn’t see a nest. The baby I had was a hopper, but it wouldn’t be long before it took its first flight. There was no way I could provide for its needs, with me being a complete stranger at this stage of its life.

So, what did I do?

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

I brought the bird back to the tree I was hoping the nest was in since mamma bird was angry at me being there.

Then something happened I never saw happen. The baby bird took off out of the tree, fell, then ran to the neighbor’s yard. Mamma bird was even more upset. Taz got worried and watched his baby leave. We’re working to make sure the thing is fed and hopefully he’ll interact with other birds still and take flight. Normally, birds reunite, but I think there was just too much going on and the baby panicked.

I mainly wanted to share this experience because most people think that if they see a baby bird they should leave it alone because the parents will not accept a baby bird that a human has touched. That’s not true, in fact if you know where the nest is you should pick that baby up and return it to its nest.

If you do return a baby bird to its nest know that there’s a good chance that you won’t see a parent return right away. Most birds do not possess the bold demeanor that a mockingbird does and will hide until they’re sure it’s safe, especially if they saw you handle the baby. It doesn’t mean they won’t return though. Resist the urge to keep peeking into the nest. Let mom–and sometimes dad–do the job mother nature intended.

What do you do if you can’t find a nest, especially if the babies clearly don’t have their feathers in yet? This is actually easier than my little runner this morning. They don’t really move. It’s possible they got knocked out by a strong storm or even just wind. If you have a hanging planter, you can take it and create your own little nest. Use natural materials like the parents would. Needles, dried leaves, mulch, etc. will do. Create walls like a nest with the natural material and put the bird–or birds–in it. Hang the new nest as close to where the previous nest may have been as possible and leave them be. Hopefully the parents will find the new nest, especially when the chicks start chirping for food.

In most scenarios, it is best to try to keep the babies with the parents as much as possible. Birds are quite sensitive and even though we mean well, the traumatizing experience of being moved can be enough to kill a young chick. When you find a baby bird, always try to return it home. Resist the urge to take over and care for it like it’s your own. It’s not yours and they’re not the easiest of animals to care for, especially when young.

Hopefully this post was informative and you’ll know the basics of what to do if you ever do find a fallen little one.

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The Herbarium by the Herbal Academy

Hi, everyone!

This Spring weather has been insane! I moved to Florida when I was 6 years old and I just loath the cold. I understand it is much more bone chilling elsewhere in the country, but I just can’t.

So naturally, being the wimp to cold that I am, I was pretty worried about our first time mama geese. I was initially unsure if they would even go broody to begin with, but they did. I wasn’t sure if they could actually keep their nests warm enough to hatch though. One day it was 80 out, the next day was 60. I understand that it is colder other places. I also understand that geese still hatch eggs in colder weather than ours. I couldn’t shake the Floridian feeling though. I mean, I bring a sweater to Disney World in the summertime because I freeze inside shops and restaurants (don’t judge me).

My husband, who moved to Florida at a much older age than I, laughed at me. It was uncalled for. Rude.

Anyhow, after being ridiculed for voicing my uncertainty, I came home from work and heard that glorious gosling beep! My excitement was soon followed by panic because I knew hearing any baby animal from this distance was a cry for help. I ran to the back of the property and nearly died laughing. This teeny tiny gosling, it appears, imprinted on one of our goat kids. The kid was completely unaware and just kept running and playing around. Whenever this gosling came near one of our ducks, the ducks would run in terror. Papa goose, from afar, just kept watching. He was being such a good daddy (the fathers aid in rasing the babies). I have seen this goose pick up our largest rooster and throw him. He is the sweetest goose towards humans food givers, but he protects his whole flock of geese and ducks. Unless he’s being fed. Then he’s like What flock?

I went to grab this little guy, thankful Goofy (our male) didn’t mind me handling his son. I brought the little one back to the females. They hissed at me. I told them to cut it out. Then I noticed a sister hiding with the females. Two goslings when I expected none. I was happy and excited. Geese are some of my favorite animals.

We have only ever hatched young from an incubator. So, I was like a paranoid first time mother, checking on this nest every couple of hours. I couldn’t help it. I wasn’t ready to see how well my geese trusted me with touching the goslings, but we do have a pond. Believe it or not, ducklings and goslings do drown. Watching it is terrifying and I’ve seen people watch it unaware that it’s happening. They are babies and they do get tired. If they don’t know how to escape the water, they drown. If the water is cold enough, their bodies stop working almost instantly. One year, we had ducklings find the pond in 60 degree weather. I watched one duckling just stop and start floating around the pond like a dead body, calling for help as best as she could. I scooped her out and put her in the lid of a small cardboard box. I boiled water and put two mugs of hot water beside her and made a tent out of a dish towel. At this moment, she wasn’t making any noise. After thirty minutes, I heard her chirping. I gave her some food and a little bit of cayenne in water. Within two hours she was up and escaping from her heat tent, so I returned her to her brothers and sisters.

My side story has a point. I promise. Because the day after our goslings hatched, I came home and the boy was missing again. I found him in an area our goat kids often play in and his neck was caught in the fence. He wasn’t moving and I was certain he was dead. Upon closer inspection I saw he was breathing, trying to call out, but no noise could be produced. I initially thought it was because he was caught in the fence. But he was breathing without struggle. I was still certain there was a neck injury. My husband got the gosling out and told me the neck actually looked fine. Holding the gosling, he informed me boy was very cold. I recreated the same heat tent and within 45 minutes, he was beeping and moving his head. No apparent neck injury. I told my husband we have to bring them in. I wasn’t risking losing them while at work, knowing I may still lose the one fighting for his life.

We set up a heat lamp and brooder in the barn. We put the male in and I put gloves on and went to fetch his sister. The female geese nipped at me, but the gloves helped. They stopped biting when they realized it wasn’t doing much good and I was taking the baby anyway. Goofy, our male, didn’t even hiss at me. I brought the girl in to be with her brother. Within two hours, both were up and happy. We are very thankful.

It’s certainly never a dull day. We were exhausted ourselves when everything was said and done. The most common response I get when I replay these stories out loud with people is, “I don’t know how you can deal with all this.”

I would never willingly give up this lifestyle.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman