Sunday, June 2, 2013

June 2nd

Okay, now I can talk about the baby birds! Last night was really fun, but oh my god the nursery is so hot. Like, 90°-95°F hot. And you can't have water in there because of all the wild animals. You don't want floaty bird poop germs going into your water bottle. And you have to wear long pants and closed toe shoes for safety, so it's especially hot. I might buy scrub pants. My pants last night got crusty bird food and possibly other things on them.
Feeding baby birds is either super simple extremely hard, depending on the bird. I was feeding the littlest birds, who are kept in incubators because they don't have feathers yet. There are little "cages" for each nest of birds (baby birds are often found together), and each cage has its own little food container and syringes. Mixing food and syringes among species isn't good for the birds, and some species get different food altogether. So, each incubator can hold like seven bird "cages" (the cages are basically like those little dry aquariums that hermit crabs live in), and you take out a cage, look at the number on it, and find the food tray for that cage. Each tray has a tiny, narrow syringe (or two), a little cup of mushy, mostly-liquid food, and occasionally a little cup of what is essentially Gatorade for birds. Sometimes there will be little notes on the cage that say that the bird was/is dehydrated, so then you give it some Gatorade.
The baby birds have to be fed every 15 minutes. Once you finish an incubator, it's time to start that incubator over again. It's insane. So you open up the lid on the little cage, and ideally the baby (or babies, up to four in a cage) will gape, which just means they'll open their mouth like they do in the wild. You've seen it before, the wide-mouthed babies chirping at their mom. If they do that, you just squirt some food down their throat, wait for them to swallow, then feed them until you've fed them their designated amount.
But sometimes, the birds don't open their mouth right away. In most cases, it's because they've fallen asleep, which just mean you have to tap on their beak with the syringe, or possibly lightly poke them with your finger. That usually will get a bird ready to eat. But some stubborn birds are too tired or scared to eat, so you have to pick them up and open their mouths for them. This is terrifying because baby birds are tiny and you feel like you're going to break them. I did not break any baby birds last night, though.
We aren't allowed to talk to the baby birds or hold them unnecessarily, which is really hard. It's just instinctual for me to wanted to say hi to everyone. But they can't become too accustomed to humans, lest they be too used to us when they're released back into the wild. So it was a pretty quiet four hours. I'm thinking I might just do three hours shifts from now on, because last night was exhausting. Not to mention the last hour of the day, for which I was present, is the time to give everyone a new little nest. Building nests is fine, because you just put toilet paper in a little knit hat. But taking out the old nests...well, it's a lot of poopy toilet paper. And it seems like bird poop never really dries, so it's quite mushy and smelly.

Anyway, that's day one of Kate is Actually Snow White but with Less Singing.

1 comment:


    They sound so cute! And that sounds exhausting, too, but rewarding!