The Wings Rescue Hotline phone rang. The caller asked if someone could take three baby hummingbirds which were still in their nest on a branch which was cut from a tree in the caller’s yard.
“The hummers didn’t make it… They were so tiny,” said Harvette Green the following afternoon. “They made it through the night but it’s so hard to get food down them, even with a tiny little tube.”
“I had a very hard time with them even though I had the right equipment,” she continued. “To get their mouths open…it’s just next to impossible, at least it was for me.”
Green said the Hotline caller said she didn’t see the momma bird coming to feed them so she cut the limb. The baby birds did not have feathers yet and were the size of a little finger. The eyes were not open and the tiny birds’ beaks were no bigger than an orange line.
“Maybe she was absolutely sure but unless you watch pretty much constantly you may not see that momma coming and going in a hurry,” said Green. While all rescued birds receive help, unfortunately not all survive to be released back to their natural habitat.
Harvette Green is one of three Wings Rescue volunteers who care for baby birds in their homes. One room in her house remains very, very warm. Green explained birds’ normal body temperature is 102 degrees. In front of the glass block window is what looks like an aquarium which is used as an incubator. There is a heating pad under it and a heat lamp
A few chimney swifts were in a “nest” at one end. Green said someone was probably demolishing their chimney since the adults go down inside a chimney, clean it and build a nest. On the other end were some very young Carolina wrens. She said someone brought the wrens to the Fulton Learning Center.
In a cage is a titmouse named Tommy. Green said Tommy had been with her a little over a week.
He has grown from 13 grams to 18. She wants to get him close to what his weight should be in the wild which is 23 grams.
“Babies need to be fed often”, said Green. Baby hummingbirds require feeding every 15 minutes during the day. Other birds are fed on individual schedules up to every 30 minutes. As they get older, Green said they may be fed every 3-4 hours. Right now, feeding Tommy the Titmouse, the chimney swifts and Carolina wrens keep her busy all day.
All of the Wings Rescue volunteers send this caution to local residents.
Although the hurricane damaged many trees and residents still may be trimming branches, please look carefully before cutting a limb. If you see what might be a nest, wait until summer or fall to cut that branch. Our feathered neighbors are recovering also.
If you find a baby bird on the ground, Green recommends trying to get it back in the nest. She said it may stay or it may not. If you are not able to return it to its nest, call the Wings Rescue Center dispatch at 361-205-0892. A volunteer will pick the bird(s) up for transport to a volunteer’s home.
If you have to intercede until someone can pick the bird up, Green recommends feeding kitten chow or scrambled eggs. Doves, however, will not eat the eggs.
The Wings Rescue Center houses the older birds in need of rehabilitation. Since they do not feed as often as baby birds, volunteers visit at intervals to feed and care for injuries.
Birds from Portland, Ingleside and Aransas Pass are cared for by Wings Rescue as well as the Rockport-Fulton area. They also care for baby birds from Mustang Island when requested by the ARK.
Volunteers are needed to transport the birds as well as to care for them. New volunteers receive training before beginning and there is always someone available to answer questions. Green commented, “You learn as you go.”
Melissa Bohannon is the friendly Hotline voice who dispatches volunteers.
She is also Wings Rescue’s photographer and contributed the bird photos found on this blog.
Volunteers celebrate when it is time to release the birds. They no longer need the love and care they have received.
Visit Wings Rescue for more information at http://rfwingsrescue.blogspot.com/