My husband Scott has accused me of wanting to be right no matter what. He might have a point—especially when it comes to a certain feathered friend I predicted would succeed in the wild.
Yesterday I released Shakey. She was the only one of the four that seemed ready to go. Chip and Big Mac are nothing but two big babies with no sense of danger. Melody broke her beak a few days ago (more on that in a minute) and is still wearing a splint. So I set the cage outside, put Shakey on top of it, and boom. Just like that she was gone.
I worried all day that something horrible had happened to her. Every other bird I’ve released has come back at least once or twice for food or comfort. Not Shakey. I watched the windows, set the two boys outside as bait. . .nothing. Ah, well, I thought. Win some, lose some.
Then this morning I saw something curious in my front yard. An adult starling was feeding a juvenile starling, which was fluffed up looking all cute with its beak wide open. And sure enough, the adult popped food into its mouth.
I looked closer. It sure did look like Shakey. Right age, right size. . . .
Then the juvenile flew to the cage where her brothers were taking their morning sunbath. They greeted each other like the long lost siblings they are, with lots of chirps and tweets and screeches. Then Shakey flew away, leaving Chip and Big Mac having fits in the cage where they could not follow.
Soon, boys. Very soon.
But Melody, poor Melody. She flew into a window Monday morning and at first I thought it killed her. It certainly knocked her loopy. Her head bobbed on her little neck and she listed to one side, and her wings slid down to drag the floor. . .oh no! I just knew she was a goner.
Turns out she was only stunned (probably a mild concussion,) because within half an hour all her neurological function had returned to normal. But her beak sat sideways! This would never do. Not only would it affect her ability to eat and drink, but her mouth would dry out and all sorts of problems might result.
I’ve splinted birds before, so I knew that good old masking tape is the best thing to use. Ordinarily I take measures to keep the adhesive off their skin and feathers, otherwise removing the splint might re-injure an unstable fracture. But in this case I just taped her beak in the correct position, much like one would wire a broken jaw shut. She didn’t eat the first day, but I made sure she stayed hydrated with Gatorade drops in the corner of her mouth.
Tuesday morning I removed the splint and her beak was only a little crooked. She ate and drank as best she could, and when she’d had enough, I taped her back up. This has gone on since Monday, and today I was able to leave her out of the splint for about an hour. I think she’ll heal just fine, and in a few more days, she should be completely back to normal.
And, I hope, flying wild with her sister.