Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Handfeeding a Mockingbird: TROC to the Rescue!

© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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Every once in a while, you get a real nice letter from someone, that just cheers you up.

I guess it was about three months ago when I received an email from Carrie Clark about a little mockingbird chick that she and her husband, John, found. I'll let Miss Carrie tell the rest.

Image Credit: bhullett

Our Mockingbird Experience

"It was in the middle of June; warm weather with a cool breeze. After we had lunch, me and my husband went down to the garden to do some work and pick some things. On our way down, we saw our cat "Boogie" bouncing around as if he were playing. We got a little curious about what in the world he was doing, so we walked over to him near the cherry tree. There he was, the baby mockingbird. We gently picked him up and brought him inside to make sure he wasn't hurt in any way. We were more confused than anything, we had no idea what to do or how in the world to put him back into his nest. He was a fledgling so we knew that if he were to jump down again, chances were that we wouldn't be out there and he would be Boogie's dinner.

That is when I jumped on the Internet to search Google about how in the world I would go about taking care of the little guy until he was big enough to fly with out getting harmed. I came across The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles by Albert A Rasch and he had an entry about taking care of a mockingbird. I had searched other websites and none of them really gave me the information I wanted except Albert's. I wrote down the recipe that was on his blog and made it up and we had went back outside to try to find some worms to put in the mix. While we were out under the same tree digging around I saw something in the corner of my eye fall to the ground, it was another baby mockingbird!

The cat(s) were still waiting around so my husband ran over and picked that one up also. This one seemed to be in better condition and a little bigger than the first one we had found. So we looked around for something to nail to the tree so that the mother could maybe hear them and come feed them for the day. We found something (I am really not sure what you would call it) but it looked like a bucket, but it was rounded out at the bottom instead of flat. We nailed it to the tree and put them in it with some grass and sat back and watched. The second bird that we had found jumped out onto the tree and had went back up and we couldn't find him. The mother bird had come and fed the other baby bird and we thought it would be alright.

So we went back inside and watched from the screen door, and what do you know the other cat "Coal" got up in the tree and was starring down at the helpless baby bird. That was it, me and my husband went out to get the little bird and brought it back inside and started to feed him with the recipe. At first, he didn't want to open up to eat so we had to gently open his mouth to feed him for a few days. After a few, he got to know that we were only trying to feed him and not harm him. If someone walked by him he would open up and stomp his little feet (it was soooo cute!).

For the time being I had kept him in a cardboard box with some toilet paper for some fluff. When he had gotten a little older we had made a cage for him out of rabbit fence. It was a pretty good size cage and we had gotten some sticks to slide through for some perches. He seemed to like it very well and hopped up and down the perches all the time. We would give him a paper plate with some water covering the bottom and he would bath in it. We also had tied a cup to the side of the cage inside and kept him fresh water in it.

But one night, we went to check on him and he had hurt his leg and was just laying there (as if he were getting ready to go to sleep). We had no idea what had happened to it and then again went on the Internet to see what we could do. I couldn't find anything, only to take it to the vet and we just don't have that kind of money, not to mention it is a wild bird and that being known they probably wouldn't help.

So I had decided to e-mail Albert about it to see what advice he could give us. He was very helpful and told us to keep a close eye on it and that a lot of birds survive with only one leg. The mockingbird was getting to where he didn't want to eat and I was getting very worried. The main thing Albert said to make sure is that he is eating like he normally would. So like the beginning, we had to force feed him again. After about a week, he had gotten better and was almost back to normal. He healed completely and every thing was good. Sometimes we would catch him standing on one leg and we didn't know why he did it, but it was cute.

We had a hard time getting him to eat on his own. It seemed like we had tried everything. Then we was about to give up trying we just thought to put another cup onto the cage but this one be full of his food and he would eventually figure out what it was because he pecked at everything. He finally found out that it was his food and ate it. The cup was about an inch and a half tall and the same width; he would eat one cupful per day. He became smarter too; we had a little hole that was a little bigger than the squares in the rabbit fence and he figured out how to escape that cage. We was on the computer one day and saw something fly into the room and there he was flying around the house. So we had patched up the hole so that he wouldn't get out unless we wanted him to because the ceiling fan was on when he got out and that would be no match for him.

So in late August we figured that it was about time to let him loose so that he can live in the wild and have babies and have "the birds life". I have to say that we really got attached to him. It was hard to let him go, but we didn't want him to be stuck in a cage forever and never be able to fly very long distances; because he just loved to fly around in the house and we couldn't let him because he pooed all the time! So we all gathered onto the porch and my husband had let him free and we watched him fly around, he had went into one tree, then he flew into the other tree. We waited for awhile to see if he would fly back out but he didn't so we figured he was probably making friends or making a nest.

That was our experience with the baby mockingbird (I had named him Tweety). We would have never been able to do it without the help of Albert, and we thank him so much for his time and advice!!


Note to self: Another job well done by a hunter and conservationist.

Best regards to all!


NorCal Cazadora said...

That's awesome - great job, Albert! And their baby mockingbird sure fared better than ours did. That little guy didn't have a chance against Harlequin the cat...

Michael Spinelli said...

What are you, the bird whisperer?

Mike S

Carrie & John said...

Yes and thanks goes to Albert because we had no clue until we ran across the rasch outdoor chronicles. Thank you so much again Albert, your a life saver!
-Carrie & John

Pedro said...

Albert, thanks a lot! We, also, found a baby mockingbird and thanks to you we have been able to feed it. Once it be an adult, we'll let it go. Thank you!