Today I rescued a young pee wee. She's fledged but still too young to fly, so it look like I'm MumAndDad for a few weeks. Luckily pee wees don't care what the parent looks like as long as it shoves food in the beak. Meal worms and mince meat dipped in insectivore mix does very nicely, thank you very much.
The trouble is, anyone who walks near the cage has a begging pee wee hassling them.
The Pee Wee has gone to a better place.
It's a large aviary on the edge of town. The storm that ripped through here on thursday night blew young birds down all over the place. One of my fellow rescuers ended up with a bunch of young pee wees who refuse to eat. We thought that if my bird went in with the others, they'd learn by example and start to gape for food.
You'd think delivering a bird would be easy, but as soon as I stepped from the car I was bailed up by a maltese terrier and a muscovy duck.I wasn't sure which one I should be more afraid of.
This morning I rescued a young peewee. Everyone else in the group are swamped by chicks: parrots, magpies, friar birds, owls and kingfishers. So guess who's peewee mum for the next 3 weeks? The good thing about peewees is they beg for food and swallow anything you shove in there. All you need to do is bump the box and you see a big yellow mouth. You also only have to make a noise, breath heavily or even just think in the bird's general direction. The really cool thing about peewees is how clean they are. The chick struggles backward until his bum is clear of the container, then he poops over the side.
I have a special mix of artificial insects for him. It has a lot less fat than Rexie's artificial termites.
Recipe and other photos soon.
My little baby is perching all on his own! I discovered him on the edge of the nest (a plastic coleslaw container from Fried Chicken Franchise) and decided it was time to move from the box and into the cage.
He's stretching his wings, preening, flapping occasionally and generally feeling good about everything, especially the regular food-onna-stick I shove in his beak. His little pin feathers have grown into a proper black and white pattern, but his tail is still a tiny fringe on his bum. He hasn't quite lost all this baby fluff; there are a still some fluffs over his eyebrows that give him a Prof. Julius Sumner-Miller look.
Fake Bugs For Young Birds
100g really lean minced meat. Chicks can't handle fat.
40g powdered dog biscuit. Good quality stuff, not the cheap biscuits.
2 eggs. Boil them for 20 minutes to break down something in the albumen that interferes with vitamine B metabolism
Peewee has outgrown his Fried Chicken Franchise coleslaw tub, and on Sunday he refused to use it and began perching on the stick. He was a little wobbly at first but now he has the hang of this grasping and balancing thing. I've started hanging his cage outdoors under a tree so he can get some sun and watch the world. He preens and stretches those wings and has lost almost all his chick-down.
Unfortunately he's a little confused and begs for food from magpies, other peewees, blackbirds, sparrows, the dogs, and the neighbours if they walk near the back fence. The sound of the back door opening makes him flap and beg like crazy; food is on the way! Sometime after New Year's he'll be on he farm in an aviary with other peewees. He has to learn that he's a bird.
I might have to invest in a larger cage this week.
Last night Peewee was running around the cage, screaming for food from anything that moved. This morning I found him sitting on the bottom of the cage, subdued and unable to perch. His feet don't have any gripping strength.
According to the peewee expert, "peewees do that, and there's not much you can do to help." They can be fine in the morning and in serious trouble in the afternoon. Sometimes they get a kidney infection that affects the sciatic nerve.
All I can do is keep the fluids going. I've made the food pretty mushy and dip it in water just before I feed the bird. If I use small balls of food I can get quite a lot of water in during a feed. His cage has been wrapped in towels to keep the breezes out of one end, so he has a warm and dark area to be in, or a warm and sunny area to sunbake.
But I'm not very confident he'll survive.
Peewee is still alive. He is chirpy, alert and hungry. But his legs don't work. I've made him a padded hammock from some rolled up towels and paper napkins so the wieght distributed better.
According to the Peewee expert some birds have done this for a week then recovered, so there's still hope for Peewee as long as he's happy to stay in place. I just have to make sure he doesn't get too covered in poohs.
Today there was movement in Peewee's legs, but there was no strength in them and his feet are still weak. Yesterday He was thrying to grasp things with them but only if I opened his toes and placed the obect (my finger, some dowel etc.) in there.
He does NOT like being given a bird-bath. I have to do that to keep his bum feathers clean. They're stained yellow now but there's no dags attached.
The peewee died last night.
Guess who's mum to another Peewee?
This peewee died, too. I don't know if it was injured, or bady dehydrated when I got it, but it died.
So I have another peewee. Again.
This one is about 3 weeks old and fully feathered, but he can't fly. A week or two will see him in the air, but right now he's cat-bait. I think he was blown from his tree last night.
The problem with getting a bird this old is getting it to food. We're having "I don't have to listen to you you're not my mum!" arguments at the moment. Right now he's in the cage with some peewee feed and meal worms, which add a little movement to the dish. I hope he looks in and thinks "Ooh! Food!"
He's calling for his parents but only the dogs are interested.
The peewee has worked out that the back-door opening means food approaches. He starts screaming and begging like a maniac. And then he sees the food. I put balls of food on a bamboo skewer and poke it through the bars. He either pecks at it or just opens his beak and shoves the whole lot down his throat. This goes on until he's had enough, and suddenly we're back to "Bugger off! You're not my Mum!"
He is actively fly/hopping from perch to perch, and does flap testing when he thinks no one's looking. This is the stage Peewee#1 would have been at if he'd survived.
I have two new peewees.
They are siblings, and like most nest-mates one is noticably smaller than the other. I put them in with peewee#3 who immediately showed them who was boss by standing on them when the food arrived. The new ones don't know it's food yet, but that didn't stop #3 from pushing them around. I hope his sqwarking and begging will encourage them to do the same.
#3 is ready to graduate to Big Aviary, and I've made arrangements to have him transferred this week. #4 and #5 are still a week or two off attempting to fly. #4 has the leaping and flapping right, it's just the horizontal movement side of things he hasn't sorted out. #5 is at least a week off even trying, although that didn't stop him leaping from his nest.
The new birds are doing the "You're not my mum" thing, but I expect the older bird will teach them "Not-mum brings food" and "It's all MINE!"
They are all in the big cage and have already sorted out their perching rights.
#5 is happy and eats anything that happens to move towards his mouth. #4 is a bit stroppy and has to be force-fed. He won't willingly take anything I offer. #3, who I thought would teach the others, has become confused, and sometimes takes the food i give him, and sometimes begs from the others.
#5 is much smaller than his sibling and only half the size of #3. I hope he makes it and doesn't get the "soft bone" syndrome that killed my first bird. Boosting the calcium doesn't work - peewees get kidney stones.
Pee Wee #5 died. I think it was a combination of poor eating, 43C temperatures, being picked on by the larger birds, the 10m fall from his nest, and being picked up and carried around the yard by the caller's labrador. There were no apparent injuries caused by the dog, but it was a big dog and a small bird so you just don't know.
Anyway. I'm down to 2 peewees. They're both schedualed to go to a big aviary before the end of this week.
Last night #4 decided he'd had enough of being force fed, and snatched a heap of food from the stick as I passed it to #3. #3, being older and therefore the Top Bird, was rather put out and retreated to the rear of the cage to have a big sook. This morning both peewees opened wide for me to push the food in, tried to push each other aside and made a noise like a pair of geiger counters on Mouraroa Atol. Rather than wait for me to feed them like chicks, they both peck at the food like an adult would. This is encouraging! Soon I'll be able to leave the food in a dish and they'll get even less handling from me. They already hate being caught for transfer to the small sleeping cage.
10 minutes ago #3 opened his mouth and, instead of AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!, let out a high-pitched "PeeWIT!" That surprised him so much he retreated to the back of the cage and let #4 eat all the food.
My baby's voice has broken!
It appears I have become the new local Peewee expert. No.6 arrived today. She is very young and still covered in downy fluff in her black & white colours. Terry brought her around and said he'd had to force feed her, but as soon as I picked her up she began begging. I stuffed her with food, and her noise set the other two off so I had to feed them ahead of schedual.
I hope she does well.
Peewees #3 and #4 have graduated to the Big Aviary at Minore, about 10km out of town. They were placed in there with H.'s little peewee to get to know him and form their own little flock. When they saw the strange bird they immediately began begging for food from him and he tried begging from them, so the three birds all looked at each other and screamed for 5 minutes. #4 and NewBird are about the same age, but #3 has a week's growth ahead of them and is noticably larger. He'll be showing The Kids how to Eat Out Of A Dish, How To Bath, and How To Fly Up To A Perch.
In the meantime, #6 is comfy in her Fried Chicken Franchise "Watery Starch and Salty Brown Stuff" container. It's lined with tissues to make it soft and she sinks down low so only her head is visible above the edge.
I just heard that the last two peewees I took out to the big aviary have been released into the wild. Yay!
I've books my current bird some accommodation in the aviary so she can get used to open spaces, foraging and other peewees. She met a wild one yesterday. He came for a visit but I don't know if the conversation was "Hey baby!" or "BUGGER OFF!" What I do know is that she watched him peck at the ground, and this morning she pecked live meal worms out of the dish.
And in peewee news, Peewee#3 which was released last week flew back into the aviary on the farm and demanded someone feed him. H. says it looks like the wild birds rejected him so he's back home having a big sook about the nasty birds and looking for easy food.
Peewee has gone! She's in her new aviary on H.'s farm. I put her in there with some other peewees so she'd get used to her new flock. She picked the highest branch, looked around, and claimed it all as her own. The other peewees know who owns it all, too. She pecks at them if they're where she wants to be. I am birdless at last, but the noise of the wild peewees kicks in the "better feed the baby" instincts. That will wear off soon.
A wild peewee is standing at the back door, screaming loudly. I wonder what he wants.
checks Ah! We're out of dog biscuits.
I have in care my first peewee of this season. He's not your average fallen chick who needs help. This fellow is an independent, nearly fully grown sub-adult. At first I thought his wing was broken because he was dangling it, but I couldn't feel any broken bones pr dislocations. I put him in the cage and observed. After much struggling he managed to get his wing folded back to where it should be,but any movement leaves him panting in pain and drooping. I think he has a torn or bruised muscle. Feeding will be difficult bacause I have to catch for force-feeding since he's not taking feed mix without help, although he scarfs down the live meal worms.
I've worked out what's happening. He's from the Peewee mafia, sent to check out the accommodation. He's been given a non-lethal injury so that he has to go into care for a while, then he'll report to the Bosses.
The peewee is settling in to life in captivity, although he really hates me going near the cage. I've been supplying meal worms but he needed something a little more meaty so I thawed out some mince meat and put it in. He wouldn't touch it.
I caught him (there was a lot of protesting), locked us in a room and forced-fed him some small balls of mince. At first he accepted them and I though he'd settle down, but then he remembered that he was a Wild Bird, and this handling was Just Not On. Instead of letting me poke the food into his throat, he pecked and snapped at my fingers and the meat, and flicked lumps of it all over the place. He escaped my grip while I was trying to control him, but instead of flapping to escape he rolled onto his back and lashed out with his feet. Every time I moved he'd roll into a position that put his feet between me and his head. I walked a full circuit around the bed and watched the maniac bird roll around on the sheet.
I flicked a couple of meal worms onto the sheet, but the bird ignored them and continued to roll on it's back, lashing out and snapping at every opportunity until ooh crawley food near me! He was very surprised to discover he'd been caught while eating the meal worms. I got a few more meat lumps into his crop, then put him and another load of worms back into the cage.
I really hope his wing gets better.
My yard has 8 peewees of varying ages in it.They're all watching the one in the cage.
The peewee seemed to have no problems using his wing so I opened the cage door and let him out.
That was a mistake. He can't keep up sustained flight or gain altitude. I now have a peewee walking around the yard. Luckily it's large enough to keep him fed and he still comes to the dish for meal worms. I'll have to try to catch him soon but for the moment he's safe. Cats don't come into my yard.
I hope the peewee Mafia are satisfied.
Picked up two animals today
The second is a young magpie. He'd been caught by some little bastards and made to fly by hurling him into the air. The brats did this for so long that 3 of he 8 claws have been broken right off at the toes. He's in my cage now, sitting on a soft cloth because his feet are too sore to pearch with. Poor little thing. The bloke who found the bird gave one of the kids a good smack on the side of the head and told them to piss off home. I approve.
The Peewee spent most of the week foraging in my back yard. He found a low branch he could roost on at night, and seemed quite happy to become a ground dweller. He used his injured wing more and more, until he could fly up to the bird-bath. Usually I kept a supply of meal worms in a dish for him, but this morning I diverted the supply to the magpie. Peewee flew to the top of the hospital cage and watch another bird eat his meal worms. This afternoon he was pearched on the roof of the house across the road with the rest of his family. Looks like I passed the Mafia's test, apart from the catering to magpies bit. Big F there.
The magpie ate the meal worms from a sitting position. He tried to pearch on the sticks but it was just too painful for him to use his feet. I mixed up some feed (powdered dog biscuits, wambaroo insectivore mix, 2 boiled eggs, 100g lean minced beef) and force fed him little balls. It was quite a struggle. I'd roll the food into a pea-sized ball, gently force his beak open, then drop the ball into his throat so the swallow reflex would take over. After half a dozen feeds the bird realized "This guy has food!" and actually begged for some. His vocal sounds went from "PISS OFF!" to "feed me pwease." He is still sitting on the floor of the cage but he looks much happier, especially when he sees the food dish.
Now I just have to hope his feet heal enough for him to use them. He's lost 3 claws, fatal for a raptor but not so bad for a magpie.
As the magpie's feet healed and he started to stand, I could start to observe him. His left leg is just dangling. I felt along the bone, and at the top of the thigh I could feel a sharp point and some crepitus as I moved it. The femur is broken just below the hip.
I have to euthanaze him. bugger.
Guess who is a new Magpie Mum? At the moment the chick is not much more than a black-and-white stomach with a beak at one end.
The little magpie chick died. I don't know why.
I have another Magpie chick.
This one is a juvenile, mostly feathered and really grumpy about being handled. If I can get him to eat he'll have a good chance. At the moment I have to force-feed him. This is done by having holes pecked into my hands as I wrap him in a towel until only his head is poking out, then, while he swears and snaps at my fingers, I try to drop balls of food down his throat.
The most successful method is to shove my whole finger into his beak, then sneak the food into the side of the open beak below my finger. He doesn't like it much. I hope he works out that I'm a friend. That shouldn't take too many days.
The weirdest flock
Today I picked up two more chicks.One is a honey-eater called a red wattle bird, the other is an insectivore called black-faced cuckoo-shrike. Luckily they eat the magpie mix, and both species are non-agressive toward the other.
I hope they survive, but at the moment they're make up the wierdest flock in town.
The little wattle bird died during the night. At least he was warm and dry, something he wouldn't get in the wild.
This is the peewee with the "Ow! Ow! My Wing Is Sore! Help Me Or Regret It" wing, and a member of the local peewee family. He hung around, mooching for meal worms, until I turned my attention to an injured magpie chick. After that his wing got magically better and her flew off.
The wattlebird died, but Bandit went on to bigger aviaries and then into the wild. Yay
One of the many peewee chicks I raised this season.
If it moves, food will come. No harm in begging at everything, including camera flashes.
2 peewee chicks
These three chicks are fat and healthy, but they still insist they're being starved to death and need to be fed THIS INSTANT or they'll die. The peewees are noisy enough to attract the attention of the peewee mafia.
The Peewees out-grew their cage and have graduated to Big School, where they now have 1 cubic metre of air space to flap and play in.
Of course, they spend all their time crammed against the front bars begging for food. They make enough noise to attract the local peewee mafia family, who drop in occasionally to check up on them. And me.
The little cuckoo-shrike is growing fast. In another week he'll be perching with the peewees and begging for food. BFCS are very slow growing. Techincally my BFCS is older than the peewees but developmentally he's much younger. It'll be interesting to see how the three cope.
In much better news, the cockie seems to be recovering from psittacosis. He's actually hungry now and is trying the seeds for the first time in a week.
which is nice.
cuckoo shrike died.
I have a new peewee. She's quite a few weeks younger than the other two, who are ready to graduate to Big School. He smaller size means I have to keep her seperate or they'd pick on her.
Now I have 4 peewees. No.4 is very young and is just getting his feathers
And now I have seven peewees.
5 & 6 are the same age an No3, while No7 is the same age as No.4. No 7 and No 4 are in Fried Chicken Franchise Reconstituted Starch and Salty Brown Topping tubs lined with tissues. The tubs make excellent individual peewee single serve portionsnests when lined with tissues.
Temperatures in the last week have all topped the 37C mark and I think the chicks are bailing from their hot nests. This is why I have so many at the moment.
I have to watch No.6. There's something sneaky about him.
And then there were 5
For some reason No.5 decided to stop eating, and began to vomit whatever I force-fed him. A few hours later he was dead. Bugger.
No. 6 has been promoted to No.5, but he is still looking for an escape when he's not demanding food from me.* No1 and No2 are frightening each other by screaming out with adult peewee noises which sounds like a whistle that goes "PEEWEE! PEEWEE!" This morning I locked us in the garage and let them fly around. They needed the exercise to build up their pecs. 10 minutes later both birds walked back to me, panting and hungry. I think I can let them go before next Saturday. The three younger ones can then move into the Big Cage for flapping practise.
I'm a bit bappy about that.
*which is all the time.
i just released Peewees 1 and 2. They spent some time looking at the open door, possibly thinking "No bars!" THe stepped outside, took some food from me, then No.1 flew off. No.2 went back into the cage, then 15 minutes later he flew off. YAY!
Now the three not-so-little ones can move into the larger cage to spread their wings.
Peewee release pt2
No.2 is hanging around and squarking at me for food. He's decided this freedom thing is good for a lark but I'm not a lark* dammit, so feed me now! The trouble is he calling at me from the top of the sycamore, and since I'm not a lark either he'll have to come down to my level. The three little ones are happy in their new big cage. They can stretch their wings and flap without hitting bars and each other. It looks like being a good day.
*I hate to tell him this, but the alternative name for peewees is "mudlark"
The two large ones in the big cage were released and the three little ones in the little cage were moved into the big cage so they had more room.
Except there's a problem. One of the older peewees doesn't like being free.
He refuses to leave and hangs around the cage he used to call home, even visiting the young ones when I put them in the sun. (They need UV or they get rickets.) He still begs for food. This greets me every time I step outside.
The smallest peewee and the frogmouth chick died last night.
Last week the three youngest and tinyest peewees all died, leaving me with just the three sub-adults and the free one who won't go away. This morning I fed the three in the cage as usual (and the free one, of course, just to shut him up) and opened the door. They stared at the open space for a long while, then one by one stepped outside to walk around the table top. A few miutes later they were testing their wings by zooming around the back yard, circling the trees and doing swoops. After ten minues of this two landed in the sycamore and called to each other. The third must have found it all too big and landed on the table near the cage. He let me pick him up and put him on a perch where he can look through the open door and can go when he's ready. That makes five successful releases, which is slightly more than a third of the rescues.
So for the first time in many months I am peewee free.
Not so peewee free I now have three screaming maniacs greet me at the door when I go outside. The youngest one has decided she didn't like hanging around, but the other two have fallen in with the already freed one, and are learning his habits. I'll keep up supplementary feeding and gradually reduce it.
I was relaxing on the patio in the cool of the evening, sipping a coffee and watching the peewees play in the lawn sprinkler. There was a brief shadow overhead and a brown falcon slammed down onto the smallest peewee. The others scattered in fright. The falcon flipped the peewee onto her back and plucked out a beakful of chest feathers.
That's when it received one of Polly's tennis balls to the back of its head. Both birds tumbled over. The peewee flew for safety under the table and the falcon screamed in anger. I shouted at it and waved a stick in the air, like some cro-magnon hunter going for the kill except I don't imagine cro-magnon man ever shouted "That's my bloody PEEWEE ya bastard!" The falcon shot off into the sycamore, and I threw things at it until it left.
I caught the poor freaked out peewee and put her back in her cage. She calmed down a lot and doesn't appear to be injured apart from a bald patch on her chest. The others are hiding in the dense leaves of the Chinese Elm and are very quiet. Poor little bird: one day of freedom then Nature struck. Technically I should have let Nature take its course, but it was my bloody peewee dammit.
Australian Hobbie/Little Falcon, hunter of peewees but not MY peewees, dammit.
Li'l Angels It is becoming difficult to study here. It happens when I drink too much coffee and start seeing "caffeine cats;" those shadows that move in your extreme peripheral vision and vanish when you look at them. My reading of "Advanced Windows Administration" was being constantly interupted by the cats flashing by the window. I ignored them.
One became persistant and stayed. Then it tapped on the glass. I couldn't ignore that. It was a peewee which immediately called for food. In seconds I had a windowsill of peewees, all begging and calling. They're upset that I've put them on morning and afternoon feeds to force them to hunt for themselves. They think they should be fed whenever they demand it, and they demand it every time they see me.
My studies go "On IA32 systems, the SKAAARK! SKWAARK! Windows server 2003 bootstrap SKWAARK!SKWAARK!SKWAARK! loader *flap flap flap* SKWAARK!SKWAARK! Ntldr, SKWAARK! can load NT4 SKWAARK! Windows 2000, XSKWAARK!P, and Windows *tap tap* SKWAARK! Server 2003 from any * choral choral choral*SKWAARK! drive or peeWEE! peeWEE! partion."
I have four squawking monsters patrolling the exterior of the house. They look in the windows as they walk past, and if they see me they immediately begin calling for food. If I feed them they'll stop, but it's time for them to learn how to Be Wild.
The peewees have all growed up and drifted off to new territory. Only one hangs around now.
One of my Peewees. Females have a white area around the beak. She is sleek and well fed, and doing well in the wild. She still hangs around for meal worms.
Another of my peewees. He seems to have paired up with the female. He isn't doing so well in the wild and hassles me for extra food. Walking out the back door often results in me wearing a peewee hat.
This morning I noticed a pair of peewees following me around the back yard while I pottered about to see if the recent rains brought up a crop of mushrooms or lawn-dicks. The birds were full-grown, and had the black and white pattern of mature peewees. I wondered if they were two of the mob I raised last summer but they wouldn't let me get close. They were quite wild, and yet not wild enough, and kept their distance instead of flying off.
I opened the lid of the meal worm bucket to throw in some bread, and suddenly I had a pair of peewees perching on the rim of the tub, looking very alert. I dug out some worms and the birds took them from my fingers. After scarfing down a dozen worms each the peewees went back to hunting for food in the grass.
It's interesting that they're still this quiet after being in the wild for 3 months. Maybe they were flying over the house this morning and somewhere in their little insane bird-brains they recognised this as a place of safety where food is easy to find and falcons get clobbered with tennis balls. The last time I saw the male he was a little thin and his feathers were tatty, but now he's sleek and glossy and seems to be coping well in the wild.
Which is nice.
Hands up if you have a pee wee.
Hands up everyone who has TWO peewees!
The peewee mafia made me an offer I couldn't refuse.
State of the peewees
I think the smallest peewee is on the way out.
The smallest peewee died.
A fellow rescuer handed me another one. I still have 4 peewees.
and a duck.
The newest peewee was a cat victim. Not long after I got her, she started vomiting blood. I euthanased her.
And I was handed a starling chick and a blackbird chick. I can't keep feral birds so I euthanased them, too.
Smallest blackbird died.
Duck died. I didn't have a lot of hope for the duck. She lived wild in Victoria Park, and someone's dogs mauled her. There my have been some internal damage the vet missed, or an infection that out-lasted the antibiotics they pumped into her.
Anyway. 3 Peewees, a blackbird and a young galah are screaming for food.
This morning I opened the peewee's cage and let them go. The three little birds wandered around on the lawn for a few minutes, realised there were no bars and flew up into the sycamore. They were joined by the young blackbird I raised and released earlier. He'd hung around, begging for food and generally looking for a way back into the cage with the peewees.
At the moment they're testing their wings and getting used to the sudden space. I expect them to turn up tonight and start making "feed me" noises at me.
The three youngsters (plus one) aren't Made Birds yet. I fully expect the local mafia to start hunting them off soon. I'll provide protection if I can but that will only last for as long as they hang around the back door. After that, they're on their own.
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