Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dexter's Story

***Warning: this is a long story, turn away if you can't handle it, lol. I meant to post this a long time ago, but this was before I was a "blogger". And the pictures were taken from my cell phone before I owned a decent camera.
About a year ago, before a bad storm was to hit, I was taking the dogs for a walk when Chloe stumbled upon a baby bird that had fallen from his nest. It looked as though another animal had disturbed the nest, as his little sibling was about to fall out as well. They were way to small to be fledglings- still had only their pin feathers and their bellies were completely bare of anything. So, I scooped up the baby bird (yes, you can handle baby birds and the mom will not reject them-most people don't realize this. Birds have a very poor sense of smell. The only thing that may prevent a mama bird from accepting her young is if they have been separated too long) and tried to think of the best way to get him back in the nest, as the nest was way to high for me to reach. Since I was in a hurry and a storm was on its way, I just took him inside and put him in a box until the storm had passed. Unfortunately for me and little "Dexter", the storm had left him orphaned and homeless- the nest was completely gone and there was no sign of his family. I checked frequently, but with no luck. So it was up to me now to try and raise this little baby- I was hoping I would be successful. I picked up some birdy formula and began feeding him- this wasn't easy. I eventually found a method that worked for us both; mourning doves don't feed the same, as say most songbirds do, so feeding was tricky at first. We were learning together!

I made sure to keep him especially warm, since he was pretty much naked still. A little heat lamp did the trick. I still remember waking up in the mornings, wondering if he was still alive (as I'd never tried to raise a dove before completely on my own). Then I'd hear his little "tweet", and my heart could start beating again.

After just a few days, his feathers began to come out! He was looking so handsome! I still had him in just that small little box- I knew it wouldn't be long before that wouldn't be good enough. I came home one day from work, and he hopped right out, gave a little tweet, and ran straight to me. My heart melted. And around this time, he began to fly. He first took flight after I'd called for him- he just flapped his wings and flew right to me.
Of course, him flying around made things a little tricky for me. I could no longer fix his formula while he waited in his box, for he was constantly on my shoulder trying to get to his formula before it was ready, lol.

So, I had to get him his very own cage. Voila! Poor thing didn't like to be in there though. He would pace back and forth and tweet for me to let him out.
When I did let him out, his favorite places in the apartment was either in this little box shelf or on the top of the futon. Notice how I added bedding to my shelf- I figured it would just make him more comfortable, ;).
Here he is getting so big! What's funny is that I remember as he grew, I didn't think he was growing that much. Looking back, he was pretty large (for a youngster, that is). Weaning the little booger wasn't easy, I'd give him seeds, but most times he'd just pick them up and spit them out; that's why I decided to cheat. I knew the best way to get him to start eating solids was from his mother's example, but since that wasn't an option, I had to find another way. I went to Petsmart, bought a diamond dove, kept this dove with Dexter for a day or two until he picked up how to eat. He was a seed eatin' pro in less than 24 hours- I'm a genius, I know. ;) And I returned the dove back to the store, just as I'd planned.

This is one of the last pictures I took of him. I found a rehabilitation center for birds nearby in Hutchins, Texas. It was hard to let him go, but I knew what was best for him (or her, I never did know what the sex was- I just picked one out. He actually was probably a she). I told him since day one, that he would get to go home again- so that's what I did in the end. It was in those last couple of days, that he first cooed. He was all grown up and telling me he was ready.
I still remember the day I took him in, it was so sad for me and Arthur both. The person in charge was amazed that I was able to raise him on my own, with no experience. And she was even more amazed that I was able to wean him (I didn't tell her my secret, lol); she said he looked great and definitely was eating well. I guess that means he was a bit on the chunky side? :) He liked to eat, what can I say...
When he was taken to the bird enclosure, he was definitely a little unsure of it. He pecked at every bird that came too close (he wasn't fond of the diamond dove, either) because he wasn't used to being around other birds. Over time, the center had reassured me, that the lack of human contact would eventually cause him to break any bonds he'd had previously with humans and would be able to be released again. He eventually was. I still think of him, and hope he's living or has lived a good life; maybe even had a family of his very own. Just maybe...

7 comments:

The Freds said...

What a sweet story. We had a dove named Noah once. They are very frendly birds. He was white and he cooed too much. We gave him to a park that had other doves inside a outside habitat type of thingy. I think he was happier ut there.

hoLLy said...

a little dove will find you in heaven someday to thank you:)

that was really sweet of you to help the little guy(or gal:) you definitely have a gift with animals. i wish you'd use it in a career of some sort-i think thats your calling in life. don't ignore that!

Tonya said...

I agree with Holly. It has been so fun to find you. Wow what a talent you have with animals. You are a regular Dr. Dolittle.

I bet you do miss the bird he really be part of the family.

Loved the story. My stories are always too long. I am trying to work on it...

Lulu said...

This was a very sweet story. I do have two questions though: 1. What birdy formula did you feed the baby? And 2. How on earth did you get the baby to start taking in the formula? What intruments/tools did you use? Baby doves are notorious for being difficult to handfeed.

Tara D said...

Hi Lulu,
I used the Katee Exact hand-feeding formula for baby birds(purchased this at Petsmart). And as far as how thick to mix the formula, depends on the bird's age. The younger, the thinner the consistency, and always make sure the formula is the perfect temperature- I'd have to look it up to remember exactly where it needs to be. Can't be too cold or it'll give the bird a sour crop, and if it's too hot it will burn his crop and possibly even burn a hold in it. And as far as the method, the best way is to get a dixie cup(not styrofoam) and put a hole big enough for the bird to be able to open his mouth fully (or his beak may get temporarily stuck in it) and to get most of his head through it. Place this hole about 1/3 of the way down from the bottom of the cup. I just mixed the formula in the dixie cup with the formula just below the hole that was made in the cup. Place the hole of the cup around his beak and it'll stimulate him to eat. Just as the baby bird would naturally feed from the inside of his mother's mouth, the bird will feed from the cup the same way. This method is genius and works like a charm. I had found it online and was a little skeptical at first, but it's great. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.
Tara

Tara D said...

I meant to say 1/3 of the way up from the bottom of the cup when making the small hole, oops.

That's Life said...

awl :) you are a dr doolitle...i agree