We saved four baby blue jays over the weekend.
Now, some people may not like blue jays - they can be pests, they can hurt other birds (but apparently, not as often as people think), and they're noisy - but I love them, despite their faults. They're beautiful (not that that is an excuse), and when they're happy, they sing a gorgeous liquid trill of notes completely unlike their normal shriek. But most important, they are wildlife, and I am a sucker for living things.
It started when a friend called, and said two baby birds were outside her door, they looked dead or paralyzed, and was there anything we could do? I explained (not knowing what they looked like at the time) that sometimes, baby birds fall out of a nest and die, because that's how nature is. I also said we'd come over and take care of things, because aforementioned friend is very tender and can't deal with dying things, even to put them out of their misery.
Cut to friend's house. She's pulling out of the driveway as we come in (she needed to leave for something else), and we promise to deal with stuff and not tell her what we did - and Bob says "they're going to a farm", y'know, like all the Fluffys and Fidos kids have lost over the years - they all live on a farm somewhere, right?
(That's where Thunder the little black rabbit is, dammit. And Michaelangelo the cat. And all the groundhogs "sleeping" by the side of the road. They all go to this farm place. La la la I can't heeeeeeaaaaar yooooooooou...)
Anyway. Friend has left a box, and gloves. And we hear cheeping. I climbed into the bushes, and there are three, no wait, four baby birds, that upon further inspection, look like baby blue jays. Healthy, active, but too young to leave the nest birds. Cute, fluffy, cheeping, big, gawky, can't-perch-on-a-branch-yet bundles of fluff. Wtf?
I box the birds, following wildlife rescue protocol, and put the lid on the box so they're in the dark and not disturbed. Whups, the manic cheeping seems to indicate they don't want the lid on, especially since they calm down when I leave the lid off. Okay, then. We start looking for the nest, hoping to put them back.
It has not occurred to us yet that four birds probably would not have thrown themselves out of the nest under their own steam.
We searched through several bushes and trees, and we heard and saw the mother blue jay nearby, but could not find a nest. With a sinking feeling, I look at the vacant townhouse next to Friend's house, and see bird droppings on top of the first floor window bumpout, but no nest. Bob starts looking for nest remains. He finds two halves of a mud and grass nest in the parking lot, several yards away.
Someone has ripped the nest down, and left the baby birds to die.
Bastards. Do you know, the electric and gas and plumbing companies have a policy of not completing projects if a nest is in the way, and they'll wait until the nestlings have fledged before they start work? There were signs on all our vents on the new house saying as much, and recommending we keep all openings covered, as birds like to nest in such places. We think the real estate agents for the vacant house must have pulled the nest down, as they're apparently getting ready to show the house, and Lord knows, nests and wildlife are ugly and people would never buy a house with a nest on it. [/sarcasm]
I can understand if some of my readers are not particularly moved by the idea of four baby blue jays being unceremoniously dumped from their nest and made homeless, but it's a particularly cruel way to die, and I don't think any of you would deliberately do such a thing, especially if the birds were hatched. I completely understand dismantling a nest before the eggs are laid - the birds will simply build another nest somewhere else - but sentencing four healthy birds to death because they're in the way is too cold, even for a master of evil like me.
So... I wrack my brains, trying to remember if there's an animal shelter/rescue nearby. Then I remember Friskies, the rescue whence I took the baby squirrel in 2007. Yay! But it's a bit of a drive, and we had planned other things. Bob said it didn't matter, and we would be rescuing baby birds.
The ride over was a bit tough for the birds - I didn't have anything to pad the box with, and they huddled together, cheeping at me. As it turned out, they didn't hold with the whole "disturb the wild animal as little as possible" idea, and were happiest when they were sitting in my hand. So I spent the entire ride holding baby birds and cheeping softly at them. Every now and then, they'd pop their heads up and demand food, but baby birds have very specific food demands, and I didn't want to make them sick, so I just apologized and cheeped more at them. I swear to you, if I put them down, they immediately protested - they wanted to ride in my hand, dammit.
Wildlife is not a respecter of the "hands off" policy. Mind you, I'm not trying it with a baby raccoon.
We got to Friskies, and we dropped off the babies with a donation. Friskies Rescue is a non-profit, entirely donation driven wildlife and primate rescue center, run by the seat of their pants and public donations, nothing more. No grants, no nothing. So, if you feel like throwing a little money their way, feel free.
(btw, I think this might be the squirrel I brought in - it has a curled up front paw, just like the one I rescued.)
I forgot to finish the story! (Sorry, I got distracted.) So, baby birds actually do end up at a farm. We called Friend, and left a message to that effect, and she called back, the first words out of her mouth being "You aren't lying to me, are you? Robert didn't put you up to this to make me feel better?". Hee.