Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Things I've Learned and Things I Still Don't Know...

Dave had a Dr's appointment so I've got Buddy here at work with me this morning. I need to feed him in 10 minutes.

Things I've Learned About This Baby Bird:

I think it's a sparrow.

I think it's about 9 days old.

It needs a diet high in protein, as it's parents would have fed it insects. Estimated protein in an insect diet is 33%.

"Exact" baby bird formula that I found in the petstore is 22% protein. Also, Buddy does NOT like it and won't eat it. He hides his head when I try to give it to him!

He also does not like, and doesn't seem to be able to digest dry dog food mixed with applesauce in a blender (a recipe for wild baby bird food I found online). He threw up some weird stuff when I fed him this and also had some really weird poops and seemed unhappy.

He is also not a fan of hard boiled egg yolk.

He likes (and can easily digest) canned cat food but it is only 10% protein.

Thus, I am mixing baby bird formula with with some (human) baby food in beef flavor. The beef baby food is 60% protein, which is too much. I add it to the baby bird formula. Problem solved.

Things I Still Don't Know:

Imprinting... Is there any way to prevent it? Should I try to handle him as little as possible so he has a chance of release, or is it too late and I should try to get him to bond with us and treat him as a pet?

I've read that a single baby bird will imprint on humans at this age, no matter what. If he had another baby bird with him, he'd have a better chance of thinking of himself as a bird, and thus a better chance of survival in the wild. But since he's the only one, we are his only social contact and he will start to think of himself as a human.

This is a problem because he won't learn bird behavior and he won't be accepted by his own species. Also, if we let him go he may see humans as "friends", and land on random human heads/shoulders. While I might find this totally cool, many people would be scared of this and swat at the bird, injuring or killing it. I guess this is a pretty common scenario among birds who have been raised by humans.

I don't know! Anyway, before I came to work this morning I put him in a small birdcage on the deck outside, right next to the birdfeeders. I watched him as I ate my breakfast. A whole bunch of birds were coming and going at the birdfeeder, and he could see them. They didn't pay much attention to him though. But I think at least he can see them flying, here bird songs and also, if we do release him, he will learn that he can get food at the birdfeeder! :-)


Blogger mireille said...

I think he's imprinted on YOU. You're trying so hard, honey. If he can feel how hard you're trying, I need to believe he'll make it. xoxoxo

11:07 AM  
Blogger Tania said...

Commit yourself to raising a freak sparrow, then! And bully for you for trying to get his food blend right. Your solution sounds much more pleasant than, say, sending Danny out to catch bugs and then grinding them up, all Fear Factor style.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Thanks guys! He's getting more feathers now so he's cuter. I need to take more pics.

We are feeding him bugs when we happen to catch them, but we can't spend all day searching for bugs the way his mom and dad could! :-)

4:09 PM  
Blogger katiedid said...

Oh god, perhaps I've been a vegetarian too long. The idea of feeding little birds pureed cow is terribly disturbing to me! LOL!

12:23 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Fear not, Katiedid. I just ordered a "Bag o' Bugs" -- dried insects meant to be birdfood for insectavors. Is that better? :-)

I too find it disturbing when animals are fed things they wouldn't normally eat in nature. Once I saw a TV show where they fed CANDY to COWS. I can't tell you how much that upset me. Yet I enjoy eating candy myself. I guess it's not really good for me either. But I know that and I can choose to eat it. Poor cows, they don't know! It seemed so WRONG.

6:54 PM  
Blogger katiedid said...

Oh yes! There's this Disney cartoon where Donald Duck is trapped at "The North Pole" and he tries to capture a penguin to eat. At one point he visualizes one of them as a trussed roast bird. Bird... eating... bird... GRAH! Cannibal ducks? And since it was all snowy and cold in the cartoon, I just starting thinking of him as Donner Duck. Most distressing cartoon I've ever seen.

6:02 PM  

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