Over the past month as part of our summer campaign we have shared a selection of stories with you from our rescue centers, highlighting some of the lifesaving work that you so generously make happen – day in and day out. On behalf of our staff and volunteers and most importantly the birds we care for, thank you so, so much.
On the eve of Independence Day it seemed particularly fitting to wrap up this fundraising month and to say thank you for your support by sharing some footage of some recent baby bird patients at International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Center. Our center has been overrun with orphaned birds this year, and this is the story of three Pied-billed Grebe chicks – some of the most needy orphan birds we care for – who are finding their own independence, thanks to you.
Rescued at the edge of a pond without parents, all three chicks were in desperate states – one was soaking wet and unresponsive. When they first arrived, we carried them each hour from an incubator to a dish tub, to hand feed them smelt and mealworms with forceps. After a week, they were self-feeding and were moved to a new enclosure with floating food dishes so that they could decide when they wanted to swim and eat. Grebes spend their lives on water, and serious attention was paid to providing adequate exposure without letting them get too wet, cold or tired. In the wild, Grebe chicks rest and warm up by riding on their parents’ backs, so in addition to a heat lamp they were given a feather duster to climb on and snuggle into.
It took years of experience with the challenges of this species to know just how to raise chicks like these. Examining previous cases, our veterinarian recommended a 7-day course of antibiotics for all three chicks. Now in a third phase of care, they are given both a room to themselves for privacy to reduce stress, and a regimen of daily visits to an outdoor pool where they can acclimate to the weather and build strong bones with vitamin D absorbed with the sun. Responding well and thriving, they are spending most of their time in the water and eating voraciously, but they still need to exhibit an ability to catch their own fish before they are fully ready for release.
On this Fourth of July holiday, we celebrate these and other successes and thank you for making it all possible. With your help we can give each of the birds we care for the very best chance to return to the wild and enjoy their freedom.
With much appreciation,