Thursday, June 11, 2009


My Mom was thrilled a few weeks ago when phoebes built a nest above her porch light. She kept me informed of the progress and today said that the female had left the nest. Awesome...eggs had hatched!
We went over to Mom's for a visit, and we watched the male flit about the yard.


I hadn't noticed them visiting the nest at all, so I walked around to the front porch.
Two babies, on the cement under the nest.
"Mom....MOM! Get a ladder!"

I picked them was ice cold and still. One was barely moving and also cold.
baby phoebe
Oh God. Maybe a day old? Had been laying on cold cement for who knows how long? Okay. Don't panic....warmth. It needs warmth. I cupped it in my hand and started breathing warm air onto the baby. I kept it up while Mom ran for the ladder.
As I was warming the baby with my breath, I noticed tickling and pinching around my lips. I looked at my hands and saw feather mites running about. Great. Feather mites on my mouth.
(there have been a lot of gross things near my lips lately)
Instead of freaking out, I blew my lips like a horse to blow the mites off in between warm breaths to the baby.

I climbed the ladder and looked at the nest. The side had been pulled, like a larger bird had tried to get in. Starlings? Blue Jays?
I felt in the other babies....but got a few more mites.
I placed the baby back in (and at this point it had warmed up enough to really be moving and had started to peep....thank God)

We vacated the porch and went inside to let the parents get back to the nest. After a few minutes, I wondered if the phoebes were too freaked from the attack to go back.
I will say thank GOD for Julie Zickefoose...I remembered this post, where she helped a fledgling Carolina Wren find its family by using an iPod to call them back.
I grabbed my iPod, complete with BirdJam (Hi, Jay!!!) and did the Eastern Phoebe call.


Both of the parents popped up in the yard. Come on, have one baby left.
We waited anxiously and quietly in the house, until we observed the female visit the nest several times, until she finally settled in to brood her one remaining baby.
phoebe on nest
Thank you, Julie...and thank you, BirdJam.

Will Julie be proud of me? :)

(For the record, I washed off the mites.)


LauraHinNJ said...

Yay Susan! Yay Julie! Yay BirdJam! (Hi Jay!!)

That's the sweetest story, Susan.

(Except for the part about the mites. I had a gazillion of them run up my arms once during a similar encounter with a box full of house wren babies... picture me running, shrieking, through the yard!)

Glad it worked out. Wonder what it was that tried to get at the nest.

Kyle said...

Superhero Susan, with super bird-reviving breath and feather-mite invulnerability. Great rescue and wonderful story, Susan! :-)

Stacy said...

Fantastic story Susan! Love the save! Ya I think the mite thing is just ewww. Glad you thought on your feet! So happy for the baby pheebs!

Beth in NYC said...

Wonderful story! And blogging is so great, too! I've learned so much from your site, Julie's, Kathi's and a bunch of others. I hope the little guy makes it.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Bird Rescuer extraordinaire! You rock! I've got another nest of Steller's Jays on my porch but I'm pretty sure no one is going to mess with Steller's Jay parents. They've been seen chasing away squirrels from the roof of the house (which is a Good Thing (tm)). Hope the little bebe makes it!

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...



(while I'm typing my comment, your sidebar "A Window Into My World" just flashed that disgusting bloated tick.)

KGMom said...

We are all proud of you.
Now, about those mite--what can you do to ban them forever?

NCmountainwoman said...

We are all proud of you, Susan. I hope the baby survives.

Beth said...

Awwww - thank God you were able to save one. And yes, you have had lots of disgusting things on your lips lately. Whassup with that?

Keep us posted on the phoebe progress.


Beth said...

Awwww - thank God you were able to save one. And yes, you have had lots of disgusting things on your lips lately. Whassup with that?

Keep us posted on the phoebe progress.


Matt Latham said...

Brilliant stuff and a great happy ending

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Oh, so sweet.
Good save--the Phoebes thank you!

NatureWoman said...

Wow!!! Super save, Susan!! I'm proud of you, you totally are the best!

Gallicissa said...

You are a Superwoman!

Vickie said...

What a beautiful story! Amazing image of the tiny baby and I love your quick-thinking ipod alert to the parents.

dguzman said...

Yay, Susan! Nice work! I hate those birdy mites!

dAwN said...

Wow..just catching up on your blog..
Did the bird survive?
Do you still have mite lips??
Congrats on calling back the parents..
now i have learned something new from you..
Take care!

KatDoc said...

Well done, Susan!

Now, if you are brave enough, can you take down the nest (temporarily), hold the baby in a man-made nest (temporarily) and put the mite-infested nest in a warm oven (a la Julie Z) to kill the mites? If there are that many mites already, they will really play havoc with the nestling.