Thursday, July 1, 2010

Egg to Nestling

The girls have been watching this rock dove nest for almost a month now.
When Cathy first climbed up, she was amazed at what a "messy" nest these birds build and was a little surprised that there was only one egg, and that it was pure white and almost the size of a chicken egg.

A week later, Cathy climbed up with the camera and got a picture of the hatchling. What an ugy bird!  She thought it looked like half toad - half bird.   She was very cautious and respectful, though, keeping a distance and not over-staying her welcome.  She and the girls watched from the ground over the next week or so as the soft grey mother bird flitted back and forth from the nest to various places on the property, looking for dinner for the two of them. 

After about a week, Cathy climbed up to see if the homely little bird had grown any feathers, and she had, though they were still thin.    She didn't look quite so much like a toad, anyhow.

But, a week later still, she was fluffy with feathers and getting much bigger already.  The mama bird had been doing a good job.  But, Cathy came in to report one day early this week that she'd seen the mother bird and something was wrong with her wing.  She'd tried to fly out of the nest and fallen to the ground, but then disappeared.  We feared the worst. 

We watched for a day or so to see if the mama came back, but she didn't, so we had to decide if we should try to save the bird.  We seemed to be in the ideal position, anyway -- and having followed her growth from egg to nestling, we knew we had to try.  So, the girls fixed her up a box, with lots of leaves and branches and the original nest from her tree to make her feel at home.
Here she is.  Her name is Maggie, for St. Margaret of Scotland (the feast day on the 10th of the month).  The girls have done the research and found that they need to feed her once an hour from dawn to dusk. They give her alternatively: mushed dog food, strings of chopped lunch meat, egg yolks, syringes of water, and seeds to nibble on nearby.  She's doing well, so far, eating what she's given, and she seems happy (if one can guage such a thing) in her new little world. 
Most of our questions about how to save this bird we've found on the internet, but there are a couple we can only guess at.  For instance, Cathy wonders, "Does she miss the stars at night?"  Anna thinks she must miss her mother, but "do birds really remember each other like people do?"  Theresa is worried we won't be able to teach her to fly or keep safe in the wild.  And I just wonder how we're going to get this nestling, along with three kittens, two dogs, and eight people over the mountains on Friday with only two moving trucks and a minivan... 

I'll let you know how we do.


Kim H. said...

Oh Lisa, that is the most precious story ever!!! One thing I miss most about my Ohio house was a mamma robin that used to nest every season (several times a season!) on the old security system box outside out house. I got up there several times to snap pictures and document the progress. I have to say, what an awesome lesson it was to have a birds-eye view (hee hee!) of the mamma nesting and caring for her wee ones.

And I had flashbacks to our moving weekend when we brought in not only our dog, but our hamster to the Embassy Suites in Nashville. You just do what you gotta do.

I'm so glad it's all coming together. You remain in my prayers!

Hugs, sweet friend!

GrandmaK said...

What wonder life lesson they have learned. How exciting!!! Cathy

MightyMom said...

When she's old enough I'd put her box outside somewhere high and hope shell jump. Good luck with the move.