There’s nothing quite like raising a baby bird to remind you of how fast life moves.
I found a tiny baby sparrow on the 3rd. He had fallen about 25 feet out of his nest, and somehow managed to not break his little neck. My initial thought was to return him to his nest, but it was quickly apparent that this was not possible.
Then I thought to leave him where he was, and hope his parents would come down to feed him. He was tucked under a dry leaf, and seemed fairly protected from weather.
But right then, a cat heard his angry squawking and came over to investigate. The baby turtled under his leaf, pulling his head and tail in, but a leaf would hardly stop a cat who is interested in a bird lunch.
So I took him.
My first thought was that he was a pigeon, as I knew that he was directly under a pigeon nest. But after closer examination (and googling…), I worked out that he was a sparrow.
Now, most birds are under the Migratory Bird Protection Act, meaning that picking up a nestling to care for it is illegal. You can take it to a wildlife rehab centre, or you can leave it and let nature take its course.
But sparrows are not covered under this act. Which is sadly why people are often callous about destroying nests with eggs and babies in them. They are considered a pest, and if you google sparrows, the majority of what you get is how to get rid of them.
I won’t go too into detail about how the last few days have been. Suffice it to say that I went to a pet store and got a can of baby bird formula (I know, right? What? I had no idea they made that stuff…pretty cool). I’ve been feeding the little bird, who I named Jellybean, with a tiny syringe.
He goes everywhere with me, because from 8 am to 8 pm, he has to be fed about every 20 minutes. When we’re in the car, and I’m singing, Jellybean sings along with me. He (no, I don’t know for sure about his gender…impossible to tell yet) knows very well how to tell me if I have waited too long to feed him, and he recognizes my voice already.
I weigh Jellybean, and take several pictures of him every day, and I can’t believe how quickly he is growing.
When I first found him, he had no feathers, and just the tiniest nubs of quills growing out from the bottoms of his wings.
The last two days, he has gained .1 oz a day. Which doesn’t seem like much, but when you consider that he only weighs .55 oz (as of today), it is a lot.
These two pictures were taken morning and afternoon of the 5th, showing how fast those tiny quill nubs are growing.
And this is from today. Look at how long those quills have grown. And there are little feathers sprouting on his noggin, and belly.
And some of the feather tips are emerging from the quill points. You can see not-yet-erupted quills along the back of Jellybean’s leg, which should be out within the next day or two.
He has started to grip my fingers with his toes when he sits on my hand, and he stands up when he thinks I need to be faster with his food.
I used to think that kittens grew fast. I mean, you compare them to humans, and heck, they’re speed growers. Just a few months, and they’re able to fend for themselves. But I’m looking at not much over a week until Jellybean is fully fledged, and starting to think about flying.
I have no idea what will happen then. Depends on what he thinks. If he sees the other birds flying around outside and wants to join them, I’ll let him go. If he’s a little more interested in staying with his human Mommy, I’ll be happy to have him around.
But for now, I’ll enjoy feeding him, and watching him grow, and letting him cuddle in the crook of my elbow. And what happens happens.
If you want to see more pictures of Jellybean, they will be on instagram in the near future under the tag #thejellybeansparrow
Disclaimer: I do not in any way condone removing animals from the wild unless it is the only option. If it is the only option, but you do not feel that you have the time or the ability to care for the animal you have found (every 20 minutes feeding doesn’t work with everyone’s schedule…), find a wildlife rehab centre that can take care of it and hopefully release it back into the wild. Caring for most wild animals and birds in your own home is illegal. Before trying to rehab one on your own, find out the legality in your own state and even your own town. You don’t want to get a fine when you could easily just take the animal to a licensed rehab centre.