How to Care for Baby Birds

Beware The Feathered Horde

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We had a car-load of unexpected visitors arrive today, so all that got done was loads of chatting and eating. The feathered horde always love guests. New innocents, not expecting a parrot to suddenly fly by, as they really do, and swipe the choice morsel they were saving for last, off their plate. It’s amazing people are still brave enough to visit us at all really. The baby weaver is still a tiny bit shy of people, so he mainly lurked today, but judging by the glint in his eye it won’t last. Jelly the big weaver bird is currently furious with the world in general, so earlobes were abused, eyeballs were rudely eyeballed, and scowled and screeched at too.

I can’t say no to him though. He’s so small and cute. And the bravest little fellow in the world. He really did have a very rough start. Besides, I find it seriously hilarious when he’s quivering with rage, and I can never do more than laugh at him, then give him what he’s yelling for. So he’s not aware of being anything but in charge of the entire universe. Right now he’s tired out, fast asleep, and looking more like angelic LB, the character who was based on him.

Some of my friends who’ve read Fly Birdie will know that little LB was inspired by my very own crazy Jelly. This isn’t a ploy to get anyone to rush out and buy it, by the way. In fact, when African Me & Satellite TV goes live, all my other scribbles will be free for a couple of days – so I suggest you wait till then if you fancy reading it. How’s that for great marketing skills?! Hahaa!

Anyway. The poor little guy’s been moulting for a few weeks now, changing from his baby beige feathers, and turning into a proper adult male weaver, with a shiny black head and bright yellow body. Also all his “special” white feathers have fallen out, and normal black ones are growing in their place. He’s finding this a bit depressing and spending quite a lot of his time zooming to the bathroom, all on his lonesome, and staring gloomily at his reflection. I’m not even going to argue the point here that only dolphins recognise their own reflections – he knows exactly who he’s looking at. It pains me that he’s itchy and not liking his new look. Jelly’s a special little fellow.

Obviously Fly Birdie is ninety nine percent fiction, but caring for him when he was just a little lump, made me think about the effect animals have on people – even deeply damaged people – hence the short story. I’m planning on adding a bit about the guy who inspired LB in the revamped little book, but for now, I’ll just tell you.

A tree didn’t fall and start a crazy sequence of events. We did have a very dangerous Mahogany tree that was about to though. They have very spongy wood, and this one was huge, waterlogged, and already cracking. So we brought in tree fellers to chop it down. The feller was a bit of an artist, and really cool in his own right, so it wasn’t his fault when one single tiny branch zoomed across the wrong way and fell into a Palm full of nesting weavers.

A few hours later I noticed the dog picking something up and dropping it again – he looked a bit confused as to whether to eat it or throw it. That was Jelly’s first trip after being knocked out of his tree. I picked him up, wiped him down a bit, and took him inside, not thinking for a minute that he’d survive the day. He did though – the minute he was dry, he was cheeping like crazy, and didn’t hesitate when a spoonful of porridge came his way.

It was a couple of days later. He was sitting on his basket in the kitchen, got a fright, and made an unbelievable leap across the room into a pan of simmering water. I know now how dumb it was to have him in the room at all – but that only helps for the future. I fished him out and held him under running, cold water. He really looked like a tiny goner lying on my palm. He keeled over and stayed that way. Thinking he was dead I quietly lay him in his basket and put him in another room, while I tried to get over the guilt and shock.

When I went back in, he was not only up and trying to clean himself, he was trying to sing at the same time. Long story short – he had third degree burns, his leg really did get horribly infected, and I really did keep him with me every second of every day for weeks, bathing his wounds with antibiotics and pushing it down his beak when he eventually did give up, and try to close his eyes forever. That wasn’t going to be allowed though. Finally one little toe blackened and fell off. And quite a few feathers on one of his wings did grow out white as snow – from the trauma, I would imagine. But he got better, and hasn’t looked back since.

So his life didn’t go as LB’s did. It took too long for him to heal to ever be released back into the wild, but it’s clear that Jelly enjoys his life with us, zooming around, singing his songs, and being a very busy guy all day long. I can’t imagine life without him now anyway. It’s amazing how sometimes, one very special creature will be sent our way, and without the extra effort that’s sometimes required to let them live, we could be missing out on meeting the most gorgeous of little souls. I’m glad I never gave up on him, and my friends can’t mind him munching their earlobes – he’s the only one that gets huge packets of marshmallows brought for him every time after all. Or maybe that’s a ploy to try and keep him busy?

Till next time friends. xxx

Jelly Baby