Friday, August 26, 2011

Cedar Waxwing Fledgling.

This is about a cedar waxwing fledgling I had for 3 days. I have made it into a story for kids to teach them about baby bird issues they may come across. Or their friends. It is so important to educate everyone on these issues. What my photography and sometimes my experiences are all about.

All materials here are copywrite of Jen Howard
Nature Works Photography. 2011
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Little Bird

August,20th - August,23rd,2011

This is the story of a wee fledgling found on a road in a campground. My 3 days with her and my connection with her. But my story must begin with something I need you all to know. You should never pick up a baby bird and take it from it's family. (unless it is injured). Mom and Dad will never be to far away. Remember they are feeding hungry little mouths. That now out of the protection of the nest,are all over the place. They get fed one at a time. A very busy time for Mom and Dad. With this little one,she could of been moved carefully to a safer spot off the road ,say near a tree. Momma would have found her by her hungry cries. They are always in communication with their family. Our wildlife world is one of for a better word, magical place. They are amazing little, and big beings that are the best parents in the world in my eyes. They are 110% dedicated to their babies from start to finish. And what a big job that is. The nice lady that picked this wee one up meant well. In her eyes it was abandoned and in trouble. She didn't want it to get hurt. We have all been there. Even me! But now. I am a wildlife photographer/naturalist. I study what I shoot. I study them well. They teach me so much. I get to know them and I become a part of their world. And they accept me and trust me. Because I keep my distance. I am very quiet. And I am gentil in words to them when we speak. Animals are very smart. They know. Now I will tell you about this little birds story. And I hope to teach you some very important things you need to know!

I got a phone call from my hubby on a Saturday morning. I was about to participate in a ceromony so I could not go right away. He told me there was a baby bird that was taken to the office in a KOA campground. I needed to go get it. First of all. I am not a wildlife rehabilitator. But I know a few of them from my adventure's with wildlife. Because of what I do. People who know me or know of me always call me to help them out. I have had many babies come to me this summer. And they have gone to 2 different rehabilitators who have cared for them so well. They will all be released back to the wild as soon as they are old enough to go. However,those babies were orphaned. And we knew that from their condition. They were starving and dehydrated and needed help as soon as possible. They would have died. That is different from this baby bird. Here in my hands was a very healthy baby bird. Who was not abandoned but was in a bad place. So it should have been moved carefully to a safe place not far away. But we do what we think is right don't we. So in my story of a little cedar waxwing I ended up calling Sheena. I will teach you a very imortant thing about baby birds. And you in turn,can teach others.

This little one had been in a tiny box for many hours before I could get there. It was so scared. I spoke very gently to it and open the box very carefully. What a precious little baby. Momma would be missing it very much. BUT. The nice lady never told them anything. They didn't know where it was found. A storm was coming and it was getting dark. I took the wee babe home against my better judgement. I put it into a bigger container I carry in my car. Covered it with a towel and held it on my lap. My son was with me so was driving. It settled down with me. I spoke softly to it before I let it see me and I put my hand over it gently so it didn't get away. It was now in my hands when it's Momma would be frantically looking for it.

Little Bird


Well this little fledgling seems right at home here at my house. I put her in a cage with natural branches from outside, and she is preening here. A sign of contentment is the stretching of one wing and then the other. She did that frequently. Isn't she the prettiest little thing you ever saw.

I didn't know what she was yet. So I took pictures and sent to a good friend for ID. I called a wildlife rehabilitator who does birds. She couldn't take her. So I got instructions on how to care for her until I could find someone who could. You are not by law allowed to have a wild animal of any kind in your possession for more than 48 hours. I got busy feeding the wee one who was very hungry. I had to be her mom for now. And in doing so try not to leave a human in -print. Meaning,I could not let her get attached to me and depend on me as a human. This would make it hard for her to survive in the wild. But there is still time for that not to happen here.

I made her as comfy as I could. And we started to be at one with each other right away from the start. But I felt bad for her and her family who was wondering where she was. I looked after her with all the love I could. But I can not be her Momma. She needed her Momma and her Dad.

Evening falls upon us quickly by the time I got her home, settled in and fed. I couldn't help but think about her parents all night until I finally fell asleep. How they must be feeling this night wondering what happened to one of their babies. They are so close to their wee ones. After all. They just sat on the eggs for approximately one month give or take. They fed them every 2 hours for a month and now after all that, this babe goes missing. They would be frantic. This one photo shows the red tip on her tail. Part of the identification process.

She slept well. My bathroom again became a nursery. I have 3 cats that stay indoors and one big husky dog. 3 lovebirds also so they are used to birds. But this baby was not used to them. And you should never put a wild animal were your pets can see them. It could be trouble and it also could pass along something to your pet. Always call the professionals here. Never do this yourself. I am always in touch with a wildlife rehaber. I never have any baby for more than 2 days. Usually only until I can arrange to take it to them or they can pick it up. ALWAYS. This is a delicate job that you need to know what you are doing. Things can go very wrong if it is a wee babe. And it may not survive in the wrong hands. And that would be devastating.

Little Bird


These photos are taken with a cell phone. I used what was at hand at the time. I see a change in her daily. She is really growing quickly.
My wee babe is eating well and I just found out it is a cedar waxwing fledgling. Such a beauty little bird. And boy does she pack the food away. But I don't mind. She is helpless and can not feed herself. It is a pleasure.

As she is a cedar waxwing I must feed her a special diet of fruit and insects. It is very important to know what kind of baby it is for that reason. I was told not to give her insects though. Apparently her parents have a special way of making sure they are clean before they feed them to the babes. But my good friend Fran came over with a huge offering of food for my wee babe. Blackberries,strawberries,raspberries grapes and cherries and juicy mealworms that are raised for feeding and are sterile.

We put a few berries attached to the side of the cage and she started pecking at them right away. Oh this was good. She is an older fledgling I think to be so good at eating from me. She was loving the juicy fruits we offered her. Her beak opened wide for each tasty morsel. The mealworms were a bit of a challenge for her. But she clearly enjoyed them once she got them down. It was very cute.

Little Bird

Well day 3 I had to make a decision. I talked to Toronto Wildlife Center. They were terrific. I sent them photos of my wee babe. I was hoping they could take her. But when they called me back. She was to young for them to take at this time. Best thing was to try to reunite her. Take her back. Try to find out were she was found. I was sad to have to set her free. But I knew she had to go. She was a wild baby. She needed her family. She needed to be FREE. I called the campground and told them I was coming with her. I asked the trees for energy. To help us find this babes family when we got there. For all the guidence we could get in this adventure. Tree's are full of good energy. They are the carrier of messages. And carry this message they did.

I wanted so badly for this to be successful. There was no room for we are going to try to find your Momma. It was we ARE going to go see your Momma and you dad and other syblings.You ARE going home little one. I took my babe into the bathroom. A safe place. And wanted to see how she could fly. She sat on my finger. I held her just off the tub floor. And I said come on lets get some exersize. She did her little perk up and okay I'm ready dance. And she flew. She landed on my head. Walked around in my hair for a little bit. Well I thought. She poops alot. But as they say a bird pooping on your head is suppose to be good luck. I can always use good luck. So what the heck. She was having fun. She then flew to the top of her cage which was sitting on the counter.And then around a little bit. She did fantastic. No doubt she is ready. A very happy but sad moment too. But I felt the need to give her a name. My 92 year old Mother who has not been doing well the last 3 weeks said she needed a name. My mother always was excited to hear of my wildlife adventure's. It keeps her going. We all grew up surrounded by precious wildlife. And it still goes on. So Mom,this babe got her name as you requested. She smiled and was so happy for the babe.

I wondered,what would be a good name for my baby bird. SHEENA. I don't know why. It just came to me. And I went with it. It was a pretty name for a pretty little bird. So Sheena it was.

Turns out Sheena means "God's Grace". I didn't know that until Fran looked it up. I wanted my wee babe to have a name before she left me to go home. Sheena & I have been very close the last 3 days. She was a healthy eater indeed. She always went to the feeding branch and started jumping around and opening her mouth when she was hungry. And I accomodated her gracefully and poped the berries and offered her the wiggly worms. When she had had enough she turned around. I'm done she was telling me. Thank you. She enjoyed our conversations and our quiet time. And always let me know when she was in need of more fruit. Or another wiggly mealworm. By the end of the day those wiggly worms went down a lot easier. She had to get the hang of it first. The first worm of the day sure did a lot of travelling around the cage. Sheena just couldn't grasp it. The poor wee wiggler just kept going here and there. A parachute would of worked well on the little guy. Of coarse that is not possible. So I kept picking it up and saying "I'm sorry little worm" And handed it over to Sheena again until she got it down. As the day progressed she got better at it. The last wiggly mealworm she got went down easy and she looked at me as if to say. Look at me I did it.!! And I prased her up so much her little crest stood right up there. She was proud of herself for fnally getting it down with ease. I am sure the wiggly worm appreciated that too.! She is starting to look like a cedar waxwing. What a beautiful little waxwing she is. Her Mom & Dad will see such a change in her. They will be proud.

I got all the instructions on how to find her family from Toronto Wildlife Center. Oh I can't tell you enough how amazingly helpful they were to me. And now. The next adventure begins.

Little Bird


I was told this may take a lot of hours. And was fully prepared to stay til dark if I had to. And bring her back home if I had to and go at it again tomorrow early. But as it turned out. I didn't have to. Our drive there was a bit stressful for Sheena. Or maybe she was exited. I picked Fran up for moral support and we were off.

When we got to the campground. I went into the office to get them to let us in. Apparently Sheena called and called when I got out of the car. Was she calling to me? Was she calling to her momma? I don't know. But she then went quiet. The gate opened and we went in. I drove around. Not a huge place like i first thought. I kept driving. And then I said,this is the spot. Fran said yes this looks like a good spot for them to be.

We both got out. Something was telling us to walk down that trail. We got to the end and it was an open area surrounded by trees. The trees had wild grapes hanging everywhere. I heard and saw robins,tree swallows,goldfinches but no cedar waxwings. We got the bin holding our special girl. I don't know if Sheena was really a female. But something inside told me she was. So we went with that feeling. And she didn't mind at all. I stood there in one spot and uncovered Sheena's bin. We stood there together. TWC didn't think she was old enough to fly to far. So if she got out I would be able to get her okay. Nothing here. We moved to another spot. I talked to Sheena,told her she had to call Momma. She looked at me. We looked into each others eyes. Connecting for what I didn't know was for the last time. I spoke softly to her. She looked back into my eyes with her big beautiful brown eyes. Oh what beauty and innocence. If she could talk. I kept telling her she had to call. Her Momma doesn't know she is here unless she calls. I bent over her and I stoked her bill. A communication and Momma bird does with her babe. I told her it is time to go free,to go back with your family. They missed you. You need them. She perked up. Did her little dance. And all of a sudden. She flew. And she flew strong. Right to the big tree with all the wild berries. My mouth dropped. I had no idea she could fly like that. She never called out. So no adults here. Oh no.

But then. I said call out Sheena you must. She sat there in the big tree. She pecked at the leaves,she hopped from branch to branch. Then she called a few times. YES! Within minutes. Mom & Dad were there in the bigger tree behind her and they called to her. I was there alone. Fran had gone on a walk to see if she could hear any waxwings. Oh my I can not explain my rush of feeling at that moment. The trees energy sent the message to Sheenas Mom & Dad. They were awaiting her calls. How we knew to go to that place I will never know. But I was guided there by the energy. Sheena came and sat on a branch in full view of me. She sat and we connected yet again. This time for the last time. I felt happy for her. But I also felt worried for her. It is a tough big world out there. She grew so much in the 3 days I had her I could not beleive it. She flew so strong into that tree. And she sang so loud to call out to her parents. I told her call again little one. Her parents had gone silent. Where they still there? Was it them?
Yes it was them. I had a feeling of well being in me that was so warm. Sheena gave her last call to me from this place and she flew up in behind. Towards the berries. Seconds later a call from the adults. Momma flew to her. I saw her fly in. But I didn't see them fly out.Another call seconds later from behind the trees. They were reunited and were gone. I heard at least one more other sybling when Mom & Dad showed up as it was calling to Sheena to. Welcoming back it's lost sybling. It was then silent. They were gone. They were together again as a family. Sheena was going to be alright now. She was well,had grown so much and very well fed. The photo of her in the bin before she left shows the berries around her litle beak. Oh she enjoyed those berries.

I have a new respect for parent birds feeding their little ones. Oh the work involved. It is incredible. And also for the wildlife rehabilitators who dedicate there 100% plus to look after orphaned and sometimes misplaced baby wildlife. I miss baby Sheena. But I know she is probably getting her own berries now as well as being fed. She was progressing so fast with me in that short time. Her parents looked so happy when they arrived so quickly. I thank the trees for their energy and help that day I needed them so much. I am still on cloud nine after this wonderful magical experience. I think of my babe every day. And I know she will be fine.

So what are you going to do if you find a baby bird that is not injured? Thats right. You are going to move it very gently to a safer place not far from where it is. Or get help to do so. Momma will not be far away and will come when you are gone and she knows it is safe.

Little Bird

Here is little Sheena in her tall bin awaiting her freedom. What a sweet little baby. Look at those big brown eyes greeting mine. It was the most tender moment we had together on our last minuets together. We both knew what was about to happen. But we had to say our good buys to each other as we were now very special friends. Friends that must part their ways now. Friends that will never be forgotten.

One thing I want to stress here is that if you have a cat or cats. Please try to keep them in during this critical time of wildlife babies emerging into our world. Cats are actually the number one killer of wildlife babies every year. It is a known fact and documented. Cats are the number one killer of birds period. You can find out more by going onto the websight for "Toronto Wildlife Center." There are plenty of ways for your cats to get outside safely. I mean it really is not a safe world out there for them either. They have predators. Cars,humans,wild animals. That is their world. We built an screened in porch for our 3 indoor cats. I know where they are. I know they are safe. And they still get outside. They won't kill and they won't get killed. And the bonus is we love our screened in porch too. Although we have to fight the cats for a place to sit sometimes. And usually they win. Very cute. Oh we love all our kitties. They birdwatch,skunk watch and raccoon watch from the safety of their home. As I feed the birds. I know they and their babies will live to see another day with my predators inside. I get to see all the babies here. Apparently there are a lot of really cool things you can buy or build to keep indoor cats happy and healthy to get that outdoor activity safely. And aren't they worth the effort!! You betch ya they are. They are wonderful companions and friends.

This is the story of Sheena the cedar waxwing fledgling. Come to an end. Although this is a successful story they don't all end this way. Sometimes it is a tragedy. So remember, leave babies with their families unless they are injured. Call your local MNR for wildlife rehabitlitators in your area if you need one. Never try to look after a baby by yourself. They may need a special diet and care. And there is a special way you must feed them that you would not know. That is why Mom & Dad are the best. Or if all else fails. A wildlife center who are trained. Keep our babies safe. They are very precious little beings. This last photo is a long shot of Sheena just before she flew to reunite with her Momma. Buy little babe. Be safe!

Respect,and enjoy our magical wildlife world of nature. And you will have it to enjoy and share for a long time with you and yours.

Photos and story written by:

Jennifer Howard
Nature Works Photography
( this is a true story )