Thursday, July 23, 2009

Babies without families

I don't get many injured bird pick-up calls for RAPTOR. I'm on the list as a "last resort".
So when dispatch calls, I know they went through numerous calls before dialing my number.

The phone rang this morning, and when I saw it was dispatch (a local bird store, Wild About Birds), I got excited...the girls and I had no plans today.
"Susan? Want to go get a peregrine downtown?"
"Do I WANT to go get a peregrine? Does a bear .........?"
I took all the info, called the person who had the bird (a printing company downtown) and stuffed the girls in the car.

The company had boxed the bird already ("That is one AGGRESSIVE bird! And I've never seen anything like it!"), so I put my gloves on and slowly lifted the lid of the box.

This was not a peregrine.
This was not even a BIRD OF PREY.

It was this:

The nighthawk that was not a PEREGRINE
A young Common Nighthawk. (Chordeiles minor)
(Gloves get thrown down with a sigh)

Non-birders: Though this bird has the word "hawk" in its name, this is not a hawk. This is a bird in the nightjar family. Nightjars, though, to confuse the issue, are in the same ORDER as owls.
To refresh memories out there: The biological classification of species goes like this:
*A good mnemonic for this is "Keep Ponds Clean Or Frogs Get Sick".
Another one is "King Penguins Congregate On Frozen Ground Sometimes". *
I like the frog one myself.

So a Common Nightjar's taxonomy is like this, starting with Class:
Class: Aves (Birds)
Order: Strigiformes (goatsuckers, owls)
Family: Caprimulgidae (Nighthawks and Nightjars)
Subfamily: Chordeilinae
Genus: Chordeiles

Okay. Who's confused?

Macro nighthawk beak
Though their beaks appear tiny and insignificant, follow the gape of the mouth from the beak tip to the eye....they can open that maw like a frog.
All the better to snap flying insects out of the air.

Since this is decidedly NOT a raptor, and I am not qualified to say if it was truly injured, I called Marilyn. Marilyn is a rehabber at RAPTOR, Inc., but she also does songbirds, water birds, etc.
She sounded so tired when I talked to her on the phone. We rarely even SEE Marilyn during songbird nesting season because she is always up to her Toches in baby birds until Summer is over.
But as luck would have it, she was on her way to Eden Park to try and foster a baby Mallard into an existing flock, so I met her there to hand off the nighthawk.

She said that nighthawks are extremely difficult to rehab because of their high stress levels. But she also said she would try to return it to the building it flew off of (nighthawks will nest on flat-topped gravel roofs.)

And here's her baby Mallard, in all its ducky fuzziliciousness:
(This whole business reminded me of Beth's post about Ethel and Lucy's babies)

Macro duckling

It didn't go well. If you have to introduce a single baby duck into an existing brood, the duck you have HAS to be the same age as the babies you are trying to blend it with. Otherwise, the foster duckling gets pecked to death or shunned.

Unfortunately for Baby Duckling, the other ducklings were just a bit older, and larger.
Love this picture...
looks like the duckling is saying, "Are YOU my mother?" to the house sparrow:
Are you my mother

One of the mother ducks was aggressive to the duckling:
Duckling 1


The duckling kept running back to Marilyn decided this wasn't going to work, and will keep the duckling until she can either find a compatible flock, or wait until it's grown (10 more weeks!) and release it as an adult.
Poor Marilyn....

Of course, I had to use this opportunity to photograph MY ducklings with the fuzzy little thing:
Girls feed duckling

So. Two baby birds without families. But hopefully I will be able to update everyone about the outcomes of these two stories.

Sigh. Wish it had been a peregrine.


forestal said...

Wonderful post and very informative - never seen a nightjar at all (although i am sure i may have heard one not knowing) - hope it did ok
and too bad the baby mallard didnt get along withthe others,


dAwN said...

Great Post Susan! I saw this early because Forestal already tweeted this out on twitter...which I am going to do right now!
Awesome stuff you do!
I Thank you...and the birds thank you!

Beth said...

Great pictures and post. I miss our baby ducklings at work. I hope Marilyn can find a home for the little fuzzball. And I hope the nighthawk is okay, too. Gotta' love summer - it is full of babies.


KGMom said...

Awww--cute babies.
Looking forward to updates.

MObugs said...

AWWW, what a sweet baby duckling. I have never seen a nightjar before, they are amazing looking birds. I look forward to hearing more of their story.

NatureWoman said...

Wah! Where's their families?? Poor little birdies. I'm glad they have you and Marilyn to help them.

Kyle said...

Wow, great post, Susan! What a great chance to see a nighthawk so close up, even if it WASN'T a peregrine as expected/reported. The only ones I've ever seen were in flight, and much harder to photograph! But how could anyone possibly mistake a goatsucker for a Peregrine?!?

Btw, my kids literally squealed when I showed them the duckling shots. That's some pretty powerful bundle of fuzzy cutitude you've got there!

Susan Ellis said...

Thanks for the refresher course in taxonomy...right back to grade 11! and great photos, too..

Mary said...

Awww...Look at Lorelei. What a wonderful keepsake...

Mel said...

Hola Susan,
I hope everything turns out fine for both birds.
That duck looked scared! Poor thing :(
Besos for you and the girls,