When I picked Mary Ellen up at school last Friday, she approached me with the face all parents have seen—hands folded in prayer, eyes heavenward, and lips silently mouthing, “Please, please, please.”
Long story short. Her class found a baby bird on the playground and brought it into the classroom. They made a nest of shredded colored paper and cut the bottoms off two paper cups for water and bird seed. (It’s amazing to me what items can be found in a second-grade classroom.) The bird, of course, couldn’t be left in the school over the weekend.
We have a cat. We live in an area where wild animals (and the neighbor’s cat) roam our property. I told her it wouldn’t work. She explained exactly where we could locate the bird so our cat couldn’t get to it.
I know nothing about taking care of baby birds.
Mary Ellen and her mother had nursed one back to health.
I capitulated. Her teacher rejoiced.
As we took the bird, both the teacher and I reminded Mary Ellen that it might die and all we could do for it was our best. I was wondering what that might be.
After we got the baby home and sequestered from the cat, it began chirping and flapping its wings. In other words, it didn’t look injured. My theory is that it had been traumatized by twenty eight-year-olds. But it still wouldn’t eat. We got a very small straw and tried to get the bird to drink. Its beak remained firmly shut.
What’s the internet for if not for finding out how to take care of baby birds? We found a good site, which basically said put it back in the nest. Then it explained what to do if you couldn’t find the nest, so we got a berry container, a nail, and a hammer and prepared to take bird and new nest back to school (about a twenty minute drive). The site said the mother should come within two hours—two hours!—and start feeding it. If not—go to plan B.
We had no plan B.
I called Vivien Young at Wildcat Bluff, a natural habitat near our home. She gave me Stephanie’s phone number at the wildlife rehabilitation center. She asked for a picture of the bird, which Mary Ellen took and sent.
We had a baby white winged dove. It feeds differently than other birds. Stephanie told us she would need to tube feed it and asked if we could bring it to her home.
The berries went back in their container.
When we delivered it, we learned that they had another bird just like it about the same age. Mary Ellen was delighted her bird would have a friend.
I was delighted her bird hadn’t died.