Monday, June 3, 2013

Desmond the Dove

I have a new baby. Baby dove, that is.

He was "born" in the unused kitchen window box of our old apartment. The mother laid two eggs, sat on them and they hatched about 2 days before Shavuot. I wish now I'd kept better records so I'd know exactly how old Desmond is.

The mother looked after both birds until one of the babies died. Then she abandoned the other. I got home from work on Sunday 2 weeks ago at 5 pm and by 9 pm I hadn't seen the mother at all and it was dark and getting cool outside. Normally by nightfall she was sitting on them already to keep them warm. So the fact that I hadn't seen her by dark was very odd. This was 4 days before we moved to our new apartment and we were deep in the middle of packing up but I just could NOT focus knowing this little thing was out there and would die if he stayed out there all night. "He was just BORN and he's going to DIE and it's NOT FAIR!"  He had no feathers and his eyes weren't even open yet. He would have fit in a tablespoon. So small but seemed strong. I was like, "That's it! I have to do something or try at least." I brought him inside, made a "nest" for him in a tiny tupperware container lined with multiple layers of tissues and tried to get him to take food and water but couldn't get him to open his beak.

I called up a friend who has had some very odd animals as pets in the past figuring she'd know of a vet I could consult with which she did. I phoned up the number she gave me and caught the vet still in at 9:30 pm. She said she was just leaving but how fast could I get there? I said, "10 minutes or less." Me and the bird and Y were there in 3 minutes flat. I had put the "nest" in the bottom of a large plastic bucket in case the bird jumped out he wouldn't have far to fall. The vet had two containers of food ready for me - one of baby bird "formula" that you mix with water and feed it with a syringe and another of bird seed for when he got bigger. She showed me how to feed him and I was shocked at how seemingly forceful she was with him. But it didn't seem to hurt him any and after that I was less timid about prying his beak open and dumping food down his throat. She wished us luck, didn't charge us for the visit and we went home. Luckily I was off work for 3 days prior to the move so I had the time to mother this bird. He seemed to thrive and ate with gusto. The first day I fed him the formula every 2 hours from dawn to dark. The 2nd day I stretched it to every 3 hours, the 4th day to every 4 hours, etc. The day AFTER we moved, the company I work for took all of the employees up north from 7 am for breakfast, rafting and jeeping and we didn't get home until 10:30 pm. There was no one at home who had time to look after this baby bird for me and feed him so I ended up taking him with me in his bucket nest on the bus! I had all of the equipment with me that I needed for his feedings and on the shorter stops like for breakfast I left him in his bucket on the bus. During the 3-4 hours that we were doing the rafting and jeeping, it was too hot to leave him on the bus. He would have cooked. So I ran to the offices of the rafting place and begged them to let me leave him there quietly in a corner of the office somewhere in the a/c. Somehow I think they'd never had such a request before.....but they let me. So WHEW for that! Being able to leave him in the a/c was a huge relief. So all told we made it through a long day just fine.

He's getting big and strong and doing all the right birdie things - except eating on his own. He's on purely bird seed now but still hasn't figured out how to pick the seeds up off the floor of his cage and eat them. I hope I won't be hand feeding him forever. I now have him in a normal bird cage since I'm not sure when he will start flying. He's already making short hopping flights. I'm bringing him to work with me still to make sure he eats. But can't figure out how to teach him to eat on his own.

It's an amazing thing to hold this little creature who is so unafraid of us. He sits in his cage on my desk making soft "weeeet! weeeet!" sounds at me all day.


  1. Aw, thank you for sharing that! So nice to read :) Please let us know how it goes!

  2. He's great and getting big! He is really flying and prefers high places including the top of my head! And he finally started picking up the bird seed on his own. He loves to be as close to me as he can get. If I hold him in one hand and cup my other hand over him so it's resting gently on his head and back, he snuggles right down and goes to sleep. I guess he thinks I'm his mom sitting on him. I borrowed a very large bird cage from friends who used to have birds and weren't using the cage. Desmond isn't all that big but has quite a wing span. I'm still not sure if he's eating from the seed dispenser in the cage so I make sure he eats well in the morning and again when I get home from work. I wish I had someone at home who cared enough to observe whether he's eating on his own while I'm not there. Sigh. But I don't.