Yesterday, Evan and I rescued this tiny baby bird from an almost certain death. We believe this is a baby Pitirre, or Gray Kingbird - very common to Puerto Rico. We noticed him when walking down to the beach with Sophie and our friends from Florida. I spotted him on the sidewalk, where he apparently had jumped from his nest in the adjacent telephone pole. Since the nest was well out of reach, we gently placed him in the grass so he was at least out of the way of passing dogs, cats, cars and bikes. We also noticed that the two parent birds were perched on the wires above, seemingly trying to figure out what to do next. Evan told me that the whole "don't touch the bird or the mom will not return" was a myth, so we felt confident we did the right thing.
Several hours later, after returning from San Juan airport and a tasty meal at MenTa Cuisine in Arecibo, we were finally home and able to relax. I asked Evan if he wanted to run down the hill and see if the baby bird was still around, so he obliged. And of course, he was there nestled in the grass, sleeping - exhausted, dehydrated, scared and stressed out. That was it -- we decided we would take our chances at helping him survive as it appeared those chances were slowly diminishing the longer he remained out of the nest.
We found a great source online about how to care for baby birds. Last night, we took an old shoe box and added some paper towels and a torn piece of old tee-shirt to make a nest. The bird wasn't interested in eating, so we had to use a syringe to force a bit of food in him since it was clear he had not eaten in over 8 hours (the guide says birds of about 20 days old need food every 2-3 hours). Once fed, he slept soundly in his makeshift nest in our office and we went to sleep wondering how this would turn out in the morning....
Low and behold, we were woken to the sweet sounds of a hungry baby bird! He seemed full of life and was eager to take the moistened, ground dog chow and ground boiled egg (60% / 20% respectively). I upgraded his shoe box to a larger, high walled cardboard box. I then added twigs for perching, which I poked through the box to keep them stable. I added a new "nest" of clean cotton tee-shirt and completed the assembly with two flat lids of water.
I have been feeding him about every 1.5 hours, because he seems so eager to eat and I'm trying to help him make up for lost energy and the stressful episode of yesterday. He's been singing all day - I have his box outside and out of reach of roaming cats (and Sophie) were he can get a little vitamin D.
Evan and I both seem hopeful that he will make a positive comeback and we hope to release him back into the wild in the next week or two.
Have you ever cared for a baby bird or other wildlife? What was your experience? Do you have any suggestions or recommendations - things to do or not to do?