John Walker's Electronic House

My Ludicrous Life

by on Apr.17, 2007, under The Rest

Today I have been a mummy bird.

This morning, rather unpleasantly, Dexter brought in a finch chick.

I came in after hearing the screams, saw it sprawling on its back and feared the worst, imploring Dex to just kill it and get it over with. (Why a photo? Craig suggested I take one, so I did). Dex I think was just as surprised by it all as me, and just aimlessly batted at it with his paw, wondering why it was being a less entertaining play companion all of a sudden.

Dragging the cat off it, and informing him that he was a “VERY BAD CAT”, I scooped up the bird into an empty tissue box, and began the awkward thinking on how I was going to kill the poor thing. Getting it up the right way, however, seemed to suggest that there had been very little harm done. Dex still only has his baby teeth, and appeared to carry it in very gently. But I figured, it’s a very young bird despite having fledged, and it’s pretty much going to die whichever option I pick.

My pussy way out was going to be to take it down to the allotments near my house and let nature’s winner eat it for dinner. I’m quite pragmatic about this sort of thing, and have no problem with cute baby anythings getting eaten by hungry grown up anything elses. But then speaking with my bird-loving mum, she suggested that I ring the vet and see if they have a contact. They did, and after a series of phonecalls, I spoke to a lady who apparently rescues birds like this all the time. What an excellent lady. She said I should drip water on top of its beak, which it would then hopefully take in as it flowed down, and that she’d ring me back later to let me know when she could come over.

The water dripping worked, and in fact Birdie began opening its mouth at me like a chick in a cartoon. Gaping, I learned this is called. When the lady phoned back to let me know she wouldn’t be able to come until tomorrow morning, we agreed it unlikely that it live that long, but she was pleased to hear about the gaping. She said, “If it’s opening its mouth, you should probably put something in it.” And after a run-down of the cereal in the house, she suggested mashing up some Wheetabix with warm water, and seeing if he’d eat that.

Open wide, here comes the aeroplane. Oh no! Bird strike! ARGHHHH!

After some experiments with a syringe and teaspoon and a lot of spilt Wheetabix, I noticed that the gaping started whenever my finger went near. It was worth a shot. I loaded my little finger up with goo, and went toward the beak which was suddenly flung open. Lots of nipping at my fingers later and a decent amount seemed to have gone down.

Later in the evening, and all looked lost. It was keeping its eyes shut, and refusing to swallow the water drips. Ready to just leave it to quietly die in the cat box (temporarily its home), I then spotted some sneaky swallowing out of the corner of my eye. A few more drips, and we were back in action, and then eating Wheetabix again.

I’ve now mastered the art. Filling the syringe with the mushy Bix, but teasing the beak open with my little finger, then squirting it gently in. Gobble gobble gobble, more please.

So we shall see if it lasts the night. I should be passing it on around 9am if it lives, and so think I’ll give it one more feed at about 4am. Which means I’m now dedicating ridiculous energy to an animal I was quite happy to feed to the foxes. I’ve realised after three feeds that I’m now going to be sad if it does die, which is annoying.

5 Comments for this entry

  • Nick Murdoch

    I’m sure you’ll get a few comments like this but: awwwwww, cute!

    It’s difficult to just let things die. I guess that’s the evolutionary benefit of being cute :P

  • Thomas Lawrence

    Ah, welcome to the true life of a cat owner! I’m so proud of ‘lil Dex’s bringing his first bird home, even if he didn’t finish the job.

    By the by, we found giving our cat a bell on her collar helped to recue the number of small animals that don’t hear her coming. Either way, be prepared to dispose of many many more corpses as Dex grows up. Ah, cats :).

  • John

    I’d rather dozens of mutated, half-eaten dying corpses than an insistent jingling bell noise.

  • The_B

    So what’s the latest? Has it passed to the big bird bath in the sky?

  • John

    He’s alive and bouncy. I think I saved a birdie.