Guess what, Guys?!?! I’M A MOM…MA BIRD!
Yep. You read that right. Unless you read it wrong I suppose…whatever, I don’t know your life.
Anywho…I would like to introduce you all to the newest member of the Awkward Family (which consists mostly of me…and a few other weirdoes…)
He’s an unidentifiable abandoned baby bird that my roommates and I rescued last week. He is bald and pink and glorious and hideously adorable and we are in love with him, or at least I am.
The Furballs (my roommate’s two insidious felines, you can read more about them in their post “The Furballs”) only like him because he looks like a quick snack,( and also like a Rotisserie Chicken…but we won’t go there). Naturally, they have been banished…to the living room. Apparently my roommate is still attached to her “babies”, so actual banishment was vetoed. Bummer, right?
As you can see, Penguin is pretty puny. So puny that there was virtually no way any of us could identify what kind of bird he was, so we decided for him: he is a Penguin. It is cold in Wisconsin, and he cannot fly.
Cold + Flightless = Penguin.
Before PETA busts down my door, I want you all to know that we (my roommates and I) are not idiots. We knew that Penguin couldn’t stay with us if we wanted to give him a real chance at survival – and also it is SUPER illegal to keep wild animals in the state of Wisconsin, so there’s that too.
We tried finding the remains of what was once Penguin’s nest, but he was in a very weird place (the back stairway of our apartment, which is made almost entirely of stone and wood, but no birdy nests) and we could find nothing. Since we couldn’t find his home, we fostered him for a night in a cardboard box with a bunch of warm towels and a heat lamp. Fancy stuff, I know.
I’ll admit, we had our doubts about whether or not Penguin would make it through the night. At first, he didn’t do much of anything. He would twitch occasionally, but he couldn’t actually move, and he wasn’t making any sounds, which was scary. His eyes weren’t even open yet, so he was WAY too new to realistically survive, but Penguin is a beast, and not only did he survive, but he thrived in that cardboard mansion of his.
Somewhere around 3 AM (yes, I sat up with a baby bird all night…I was a new parent, and a wee-bit over-protective. Don’t hate.) , Penguin emerged from his coma-like state and peeped his little heart out until we found him something to eat. The baby bird rescue site we referenced recommended mushed up cat food (We fed the Furball’s food TO someone who the Furballs thought should BE Furball food. This ROYALLY ticked them off…which was hilarious). It was gross to us, but Penguin couldn’t get enough of it. You just don’t know love until you’re feeding a baby bird mushed up cat food via an eyedropper. You just don’t.
Of course, our time with Penguin had to come to an end for his own good (and probably ours too). In the morning, after feeding him yet again (for a little guy he was kind of a pig, but that’s okay), I took Penguin to a Bird Rehabilitation center that is partnered with the Wisconsin Humane Society. Yes, there are such things as bird rehabilitation centers, who knew?
I have to give the WHS their props, what they do is truly amazing. Not many people (and certainly not enough of them) devote their lives to rescuing and rehabilitating animals, especially not baby birds. Not only did the animal expert who took Penguin (I want to say her name was Marge, but shamefully I am forgetting…sorry, Awesome Lady who took Penguin), not only did she put him in a super-awesome replica nest under an incubator, but she also promised to send me updates on his recovery. Seriously, how cool is that?! We are expecting updates in a week or so, when he should (theoretically) be a little-less bald and have his eyes open. They will also be able to confirm whether or not he is actually a Penguin. We have high hopes…illogical, but high.
For those of you who feel inspired by Penguin’s story, please know that “rescuing” baby birds is not something that we, non-animal-scientists are EVER qualified to do. The only reason we kept Penguin for any amount of time was because we found him late in the afternoon and the shelters were already closed. If you should ever find an “abandoned” baby bird, or any animal for that matter, the first thing you should do is call your local wildlife rescue center (there are more of them than you’d think) or, the DNR – Department of Natural Resources. Either organization would be more than happy to answer any of your questions, and really, they are the only ones qualified to do so.
As a quick, bird-specific reference guide, here is a link to a website that we found very helpful.
Pretty pretty please respect any wild animals you do find, and make sure to only intervene if it is deemed absolutely necessary. What looks “abandoned” or “distressed” to us may very well be natural to them, so double-check your facts before acting.
Special thanks again to the Wisconsin Humane Society, and…Marge?, for all of your help with Penguin, and the other animals you serve. You guys rock!
Signing off (MommaBird Style),