Personal Stories from the Front Lines

By Penelope Wade
A year after I built my aviary, a WRI volunteer had to move and was not able to take her three fancy pigeons (Peter, Paul and Mary) with her. I agreed to take them in my aviary. Out of the box come three beautiful, fancy pigeons with so many feet feathers that they didn't walk on their feet but on their feathers. I learned that the darker of the three was the father of the female.

I had recently read an article from a Texas wildlife rehab facility that discussed using domestic doves as foster parents. I didn't have any domestic doves at the time, but wondered, "Why wouldn't it work with pigeons?". After several months, after the three were well-acquainted with their new home and had "settled in," I realized that Mary was sitting on two eggs. I didn't know who was the father at this time. They had found a spot in one corner and had used whatever nesting materials they could find to set up "housekeeping."

Five days later, I realized that Mary was on the nest with one egg-and a few days later, I saw there were two. Just about that time, I got a call from the shelter advising me that there were two nestlings (eyes still closed) pigeons, healthy and hungry looking for foster care. I picked them up, and they were healthy and very vocal.

I brought the nestlings home and found Mary sitting on the nest. I walked into the aviary, and with some trepidation, put my hand under Mary and pulled out her three eggs. She looked around and looked at me and looked at the mealworm bucket on the aviary floor. It was making baby pigeon peeps and she was very curious.

The Importance of "Wild"

By Anna Wiersma
I got a finch several years ago that was raised from "naked babyhood" to a self-feeding juvenile by a woman in Redwood City. She had made the finch so tame in the process that he felt comfortable sitting on her shoulder, on the back of her cockatiel, and on the back of her two cats. He had free reign in the rooms and kitchen and slept between the foliage of her Boston fern. He also responded to his name, "Petie," and ate at the dinner table, enjoying such things as baked potato and chocolate mousse! A gourmet finch.

He was very insulted when I put him right away in a medium flight cage with four other wild finches. He climbed the screen and screamed, "Let me out!" He curled up his beak at the peanut butter cake, mealworms and seeds. He was not welcomed by the other four finches and felt miserable for one long day. When I peeked in at night, he was sleeping alone in the farthest corner of the branch.

The next day was better. He mixed with the other finches and, by evening, roosted with his kind, even sitting in the midst of them. He also began eating finch stuff but displayed a rather aggressive behavior—a "me first" attitude at the feeding station. The spoiled brat!

After one week, before releasing him with the others into the large aviary, he was examined, and I found him to be plump and healthy. Good flight, responsive to his fellow finches and untamed. When he was about to be released two weeks later, I called Petie through the aviary door. He cocked his head, but then, so did the other four finches. He had become wild again!

I pulled out the two nestling pigeons and carefully placed them under Mary. She looked around as if to say, "Hey, what happened!" Paul then came over and was quite impressed with his mate's ability to hatch pigeons. I stood a few feet away and watched Mary fluff out her feathers and reach under her to see what she had. The two babies immediately started peeping and frantically begging for food. Mary stretched out her neck and started to make some funny moves with her throat and then thrust her beak down amongst the two. One started eating immediately.

Paul puffed himself up and acted like a very proud father.

Obviously, this was a match made in heaven-a mom and dad who were desperate for kids, and a couple of kids needing lots of TLC. Paul and Mary must have raised at least 18 to 20 babies during their lives as volunteers of Wildlife Rescue. Mary died of unknown causes when she was about nine years old. Paul chose another non-releasable in my aviary, and he and his mate raised another five or six before he died three years later.

Watching the proud parents give such good care to kids who weren't "their own" was so rewarding-not to mention the fact that I didn't have to feed all those baby birds every few hours.

A Wildlife Saga

By Bernice White
In the 12 years that I have been raising baby squirrels for Wildlife Rescue, I have learned that each one is unique, with its own personality and attitude. They are given all the TLC that they need, at least until they are weaned. When it is time to release them, I admit to having tears in my eyes as I watch them begin their new lives.

One little fellow was special to me. Soon after he came, it was apparent that he would never be releasable. Because he would not be able to fend for himself in the wild, he would either have to be put down or be kept as an educational animal under the permit of WRI. Well, of course, I kept him, and "Beanie" became an important member of my household. I took him to schools and nursing and retirement homes to teach people about wildlife—squirrels in particular.

I had Beanie for five years. I have loved all of my little charges, but Beanie has, and always will have, a corner of my heart.

We Save the Birds
Copyright © 1999 Wildlife Rescue, Inc.
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