Jun 24 2010

Giving a Cat-Thrashed, Black-Capped Chickadee a Helping Hand

Published by at 11:35 am under bird watching,nature

I haven’t been helping birds or wildlife in the Gulf region, but I did my small share for birds yesterday by saving a Black-capped Chickadee from the clutches of the nasty cat that lives across the street.

At about 6:30 a.m., I looked out my office window and noticed the neighbor’s black and white cat batting something around in the backyard. Thinking it had a House Sparrow, I wasn’t too concerned. (They are an invasive, non-native bird species and not federally protected) But on closer inspection from the kitchen door downstairs, I saw what looked like a gray bird with a black head.

The cat dashed when I opened the door and there on the ground was a pitiful looking Chickadee, missing some tail feathers, some of it’s belly skin showing and it was face down, breathing heavily. It was still alive! I gently scooped it up in my hands and noticed that its eyes were still open and alert. The poor little critter was pretty well mauled and traumatized.

Not knowing what to do with it at first, I put him in the seed tray on the bird feeder pole. Then I ran inside and got a small box and lined it with soft rags at the bottom. I also dropped in a handful of black oil sunflower seeds from the bird seed bucket and ran back outside to get the bird. The little critter was still laying on the tray and when I tried to lift it up again, it was clutching at the grate with its toenails. Gently, I pulled his toenails out, cupped it in my hand and lay it into the box.



The injured Black-capped Chickadee resting on soft rags after being saved from the neighbor's cat. (Photo by Randye Kerstein/Kerstein Creative)


I thought about bringing it in the house, but there at the screen door was our cat, Bouche, eye-balling the activity with much curiosity. (Bouche is an indoor cat and only watches birds for sport) Inside was definitely not an option. So, I placed the box on the back porch between our grill and the wall of the house, where it was protected from the misting rain.

A call to the local animal control was a no-go because they don’t take in injured wild animals. In fact, it’s illegal to do so. A call to the local Audubon Society also proved fruitless and I left a message. But a quick search online yielded that I was right on track: Box, soft towels or rags, some food and a quiet spot for the animal to recover.

Sure enough, within about 20 minutes, the little bird was munching on sunflower seeds and looked a little better. Fifteen minutes after that, it was fluttering its wings and preening. Randye got a good photo or two at that point. Ten minutes later, it was gone leaving sunflower seed shells and a poop.



The Chickadee starts to recover and munches on sunflower seeds. Note the seed in its mouth. (Photo by Randye Kerstein/Kerstein Creative)


Before I went to work, I checked outside one last time to make sure it wasn’t face down in the dirt beside our back deck and saw it sitting on the middle of the chain link fence on the side yard staring at me. As if to show me it was OK, the Chickadee fluttered up one chain rung, then another. Then it flew to the top of the fence, and subsequently to a high branch in our neighbor’s Japanese Maple tree.

The little Chickadee was saved and that was a great way to start the day.

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