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little birdies! – care and especially feeding.

May 2, 2010

Went back to work at the wildlife center today! I started working with songbirds. I haven’t spent much time with the little birds, mostly been focusing on the raptors, but now is the time to do something different (and less stressful and much safer!)

Evening shifts are available to feed baby birds and juveniles, and I am glad to get an evening shift! I will be working Saturdays and Sundays, taking care of songbirds, such as starlings, finches, cedar waxwings, robins, and many others, as well as corvids – out here in America, the corvids are crows, mag pies, jays, and ravens. In England there is a bird called a rook that is part of the corvid family, but there are none in the US that I know of.

How to feed the little birds – take a tweezers and hold little bits of bird kibble or worms, and put the food in the birdies’ mouths. This can be tricky! Even more tricky if they are in a plastic container with a fold-top lid that I need to open in order to feed them – and they can hop out!  The smaller ones, like sparrows, and the finches in the picture, require feeding via syringe.  We feed them a thick, nutritious liquid called Exact, which they love! Most birds will stop feeding once they are full, but finches keep begging for food, so I have to look at their crops – the part of their bodies on their chest below their beaks where they store their food. If their crops look full, I need to stop feeding them even though they keep begging. They have to be a certain size and age before being moved to an indoor cage, and then older still to be moved to an outside cage, and then later, released!

It’s certainly different to be working mostly indoors. A lovely spring day with a bit of a breeze, but inside the main building, rather hot! Those little birds need heat lamps and the smallest ones are in incubators – these generate a lot of heat! I’ll be wearing shorts to work, which will feel a bit odd, but I won’t have heavy cleaning to do like I used to. Still will get dirty, but not so bad.

Shifts are 4 hours long, and my guess is, we will be staying rather busy! Two people working each shift.

Not too many little birds at the center yet, but give us another month, we will be inundated. Late spring and summer are by far our busiest time!

The lady who is the songbird coordinator really knows her stuff, and was good to work with this evening.

I’ll write more later, as I do more shifts. I have a lot to learn yet, considering today was only my first day with the little birds.

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