They All Look Alike!

Today I worked with the little birds in the incubators. On the front of each incubator are post-it notes with the amount of food each species gets to eat. The problem is the baby birds all look alike. I have no idea how to tell a sparrow from a finch from a starling so I had a crash course in baby identification. The most important part was distinguishing the finches from everything else because they get a different food. Luckily, a few aren’t old enough to walk yet so they are in ¬†little strawberry basket nests making them easy to tell apart from the rest. The slightly older birds were able to walk around and even fly a little ¬†so they tended to be a pain in the ass. They would jump on my hand or arm and fight to get the food that was meant for another bird. It was cute and aggravating at the same time. I truly hope each one got feed properly because I’m not 100% sure that some didn’t get fed twice while others may have received nothing.

There were 2 birds in the incubator that were quieter than the rest. They are Black Phoebe’s and had apparently had a rough time of it. Today they were quite lethargic compared to the other birds and I even had to force them to open their beaks to eat while the other birds would practically rip the syringe out of my hand to get the food. They are beautiful birds and it was sad to see them so out of it. I’m hoping by Friday they will be better and opening up for feedings voluntarily.

Did I mention that these birds have to be fed every 15 minutes? Seriously, it was like a never-ending ritual. I would finish the first incubator, set the timer, and start on the second. If I was lucky I would get everyone fed and have a few minutes to clean some of the mess they made or give one of the messier birds a bath before I would have to start all over again. Who knew caring for tiny birds could be so exhausting? Yes, I’d do it again in a second!

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Welcome to my blog! As the name suggests, I am a volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center or, more accurately, I have completed initial training and will work my first shift on Friday. I do have a background in handling domestic animals as well as some reptiles, amphibians, birds and a few exotic mammals, but the species at the wildlife center will mostly be new to me. My previous involvement was primarily in education so it consisted of holding an animal and occasionally letting someone touch it. The work at the wildlife center will be very different and, I feel, more rewarding.

The wildlife center rehabilitates sick, injured and orphaned animals of various species found in California. The point is to get them better or help them grow up so they can be re-released back into the wild. This means I handle the animal as little as possible, I don’t make eye contact, and I do anything else in my power to be sure the animal does not become dependent on people. It also means that I will be a lifeline for these animals as I will be making sure they are fed and cared for in a stress free environment. It is a big responsibility but also much more interesting than showing an animal off to members of the public. I hope to actually feel like I am doing something worthwhile.

So, this blog will be about my experiences at the wildlife center and hopefully, they will be much more interesting than this first post. My volunteer days are Friday and Tuesday so look for posts around those parts of the week and enjoy!

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