It was so nice outside yesterday I decided to go outside for a bit when I got home from work. I walked around the house to check out how well, or not so well, the lawn has been. We've had a ton of rain lately, so I was expecting decent results. On my way, I came across the baby bird pictured here.
At first, I thought it was injured. It didn't move a bit, except for its head. I was able to get right up on it. When I put my finger close to the head, it opened its mouth ... as in, "Hey, feed me!"
If I'm going to feed a bird, then it has to have a name. That's just natural. The bird's name was henceforth "Esteban." Why Esteban? Why not? As a great movie scientist once said, "It just popped in there." Note, I have no idea if this was a male or female bird.
Why would I want to feed a wild bird? Why not let nature take its course? Should I adhere to a strict policy of non-interference? Nah, I really just didn't want a dead bird in the lawn. I have to mow tomorrow.
So, I was off to get Esteban some food, but what do baby birds eat? Bugs! Yes, bugs. I put gloves on and dug around in the rocks in front of my house for a few minutes. I managed to squish a few small critters that I hoped would be to Esteban's liking. Feeding a baby bird squashed bugs is a little harder than it sounds, though. Let's just say it didn't go so well.
What to feed poor little Esteban now? Worms? Yes, worms! I needed to find some worms. The ground was moist from recent rains, so this should be easy. Nope. I dug around the yard a bit with no luck. I would be an awful bird mother!
With my options running thin and daylight slipping away, I did the only logical thing a geek could. I turned to Facebook.
One friend, a bird owner himself, provided a solution of what to feed Esteban: a small amount of warm milk mixed in with egg whites. I didn't have any eggs, alas, so warm milk it was.
Note, 15 seconds in the microwave for a teaspoon of milk is not warm. It is boiling lava hot! I had to wait a few minutes for the milk to cool before I could feed my new friend. My feeding apparatus was one of those teaspoon-sized "measuring spoons" you get from the drugstore when getting a liquid prescription, like cough syrup.
Venturing back out, I convinced Esteban to open up once more. I poured the milk mostly down his mouth. He seemed to like it ok. It took a few drinks to finish the teaspoon. I'd say about 40 percent made it into his mouth. He wore the rest. See it over there? The cool thing is how a baby bird's feathers (down?) bead the liquid up, keeping them dry.
Round two. Esteban still opened up when I put my finger near his head, so he must still be hungry! Back to the kitchen for me.
When I returned, Esteban was gone! Where did he go? Did the nurturing milk give him the strength he needed to pull through, spread his wings, and fly? Did a predator gobble him up? I spent about 15 minutes looking around for the little fluff ball. I found him just around the corner in front of the neighbor's garage. This little guy could move and flap (kind of).
It took a little convincing to get Esteban to chow down this time, because all of a sudden, he remembered how his legs worked. Belly won over brains and the feeding continued. I'd say about half ended up in his mouth and the rest ended up on him, so there was a slight improvement in my pouring milk down a baby bird's mouth.
The next part was pretty surprising.
Here I thought little Esteban was abandoned and alone. Left to fend for himself in a world where the rules are eat or be eaten. Apparently, not so.
My feeding activities began drawing a crowd. It was a bird crowd. Nothing like "The Birds," but it was definitely the same ones flying from rooftop to rooftop between and my neighbor's house and mine.
One bird, in particular, caught my eye. This bird had a juicy worm in its mouth. Why would a bird keep a tasty morsel like that and not eat it? Was this Momma Bird?
I couldn't get close enough to Momma Bird for a decent photo. Momma Bird was very skittish. Maybe she thought I wanted that worm for myself? After all, I could steal it from her, feed it to Esteban, and then win him over for life.
Momma Bird kept a close eye on my activities. When I'd approach, she'd fly away. As I would move back, she'd attempt to approach my hungry little buddy. I hid around the corner by the garage, camera in hand, ready to capture the magical moment of mother and son (?) reunited. Popping back out for a shot would scare her away again. This went on for maybe 10 minutes. What to do?
I went inside to photograph from there. I'd effectively be closer to the action without scaring off the subjects. Quickly, I set up my wife's camera on a tripod, set it to video mode and began recording.
Moments later, success! Mother and bird were reunited. Esteban scarfed down what I'm sure was a moist, delicious worm. I began snapping photos with my main camera, attempting to capture the bird tears of joy. The screen on the window caused some interference that made the photo turn out not so great. I salvaged what I could for you, so enjoy.
Even though I'm sure I'll never see little Esteban again, I should revel in the fact that my quick actions saved the innocent life of a near-helpless baby bird that I, strangely, gave a name to. I'm sure Esteban will grow up to become a strong, healthy bird that feeds on many bugs and worms, soars through the air at great altitudes and poops on my windshield.
Video: The Reunion