How to be a mother bird
When the baby robin fell out of the nest, the humans stepped in.
David was just 3 months old when Bird fell out of his nest.Skip to next paragraph
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I was busy in the kitchen when I heard a penetrating, persistent squawk. Finally I went outside to find out what was going on.
I followed the unrelenting noise to the beginning of what would scarcely be called a yard. Then I saw a robin crying in despair, swooping down to the ground, and then soaring to the top of a very tall tree, only to swoop down again. Her focus was a baby robin who had apparently fallen out of his nest. One little wing was held close to his body and the other flapped as he desperately tried to reach his mother.
What to do? We were living in the country, and there were many small wild animals who would look with great interest on this little creature. The answer, of course, was to stay close by, guarding him, and wait for my husband to come home. He was very good with animals.
Quickly I ran back into the house; grabbed a small chair; placed David in a baby basket; put a leash on Punky, our cocker spaniel; picked up a book, and then hurried back to our new small-bird assignment. The mother bird soon stopped swooping down from the nest, and there was quiet. I have since wondered if she knew, in some capacity, that her baby bird was now safe.
Some hours later Gene came home, looked at the situation, and took over general management of the small bird.
After Gene called the Animal Rescue League and was told how to care for our new household member, we set about our duties. He was to be fed every two hours (he beat David on that one). He was to live in a cardboard box with wire netting over it, and inside he was to have the accommodations of a nest.
We named him Bird. And he was now the fifth member of our family.
It wasn't easy: Between feeding both David and Bird, it seemed as if we were up all night long. For about a week it was exhausting. Then we took turns. One would feed David and the other would feed Bird. We fell into an easy family routine. Bird was fed with an eyedropper for the first few weeks. Eventually he learned to let us know when he wanted to be fed – with loud squawks and later, chirping.
He lived with us all summer long. His wing healed, and he grew larger until he was a full-size robin. He needed a larger carton for a home, and was content to go into it every night, but during the day he had full range of the house. Bird rarely let us out of his sight and spent a lot of his time perched on one of our heads or a shoulder or a finger that we would hold out for him to come to. The kitchen was out of bounds. I cleaned up daily, but it was worth it.