Saturday, March 4, 2017

One Baby Animal's Struggle To Survive

Although this is a dog blog, today I'm posting about a very special bird whose tenacity and struggle to survive inspired me and touched my heart.  This is Tiny's story.

My Mom always loved birds.  When she was in her 80's, she ended up with a pair of Cockatiels that friends of hers could no longer keep.  One day one of the birds laid eggs!  It was a total surprise, we didn't even know what gender the birds were, my Mom never thought to ask.  The eggs hatched and she soon had a clutch of baby Cockatiels. It wasn't the first time the pair would have babies. They turned out to be quite an amorous pair! 

A baby bird struggling to survive after parents refuse to feed it
Cockatiels are very sweet, friendly birds
My Mom loved caring for her birds and hand taming their babies.  When they were old enough she'd give them away to good homes.  The few baby birds that didn't get adopted she gave to family friends who owned a pet store.  They gave her free bird food and supplies in exchange for baby birds that were beautifully hand tamed, thanks to my Mom's TLC.

It was a hobby that brought her so much joy in her senior years.  She took beautiful care of those birds every single day.  She fed them, gave them fresh water several times a day, and kept their cages immaculately clean.  She loved taking them out of the cages to give them affection and a little freedom and "playtime".   She loved them all and cried each time the baby birds had to leave her.  She ended up keeping a few babies herself, ultimately ending up with several cages of Cockatiels.

Years ago, I had to have major surgery.  I was unable to drive or walk for several weeks and was recuperating at my parent's house.  One of the pairs of birds had laid eggs before I arrived.  As luck would have it, while I was staying there, the eggs hatched and 3 baby birds were born!  It was exciting to see those baby birds hatch, and to see how excited and attentive my Mom was to them.  We quickly noticed, however, that something wasn't quite right with one of the babies.  She was smaller than the other birds and her tiny legs didn't seem right, they were sort of crooked and knarly.

A slightly disabled baby bird struggles to survive after the parents refuse to feed or acknowledge it
Cockatiels can be hand tamed.  With proper care, they are wonderful pets
The parents steadfastly refused to feed this tiny little bird, or even acknowledge her existence!  It was heart wrenching to see this little creature begging for food and attention.  She would flap her tiny fledgling wings and with a gaping mouth make slight, raspy sounds, begging the parents to feed her.  But they would not.  They must have realized there was something wrong with this little bird, and nature being what it is they would not acknowledge their imperfect baby.  We were heartbroken to realize that this little baby bird was an orphan, even though her parents were right there in the cage with her.  It was just too cruel!

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My Mom and I were distraught.  We had to help this baby bird, and fast, or it wouldn't survive!  My Mom had some baby bird meal, which we mixed with warm water and fed to the tiny bird through a syringe.  It was tough going at first, but this little baby wanted to eat, wanted to be acknowledged, wanted to LIVE!  We resolved to do everything in our power to help this tiny baby bird survive.  Although her survival was uncertain, I gave her a name.  "Tiny".  I decided Tiny was the perfect name for an itty bitty bird, the smallest of her siblings, fighting with all her might to survive.


Tiny, the bird who wasn't expected to live, fought to survive and lived a full life, where she was loved and cherished
Like my Mom, my husband always loved birds.  Here he is with Tiny perched on his shoulder!
Mom and I took turns feeding our baby bird every 2 hours or so.  We'd mix up the food with warm water, suck it into the smallest syringe I've ever seen, and gently feed the tiny hatchling.  It was touch & go for the first few days, but soon Tiny seemed to be getting stronger and was taking food from the syringe easily.  We were overjoyed, she was going to live!  

After about a week of this careful routine, an amazing thing happened.  The Father bird began to feed Tiny!  It was such an exciting moment, seeing Tiny's Daddy regurgitate food into her minuscule beak.  The Father must have realized that Tiny was strong enough to survive after all, and decided she was worthy of nurturing.  My Mom and I were overjoyed!  We knew Tiny would be OK now that one of her parents took up the feeding regimen. 

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Sadly, the mama bird never did acknowledge Tiny and continued refusing to feed or interact with her.  But that was OK, Tiny had her feathered Father and she had me.  Once I was able to go back to my own house there was no question that I would take Tiny with me.  After all, I was her Mama!

An orphaned, imperfect baby bird fights to survive and wins!
Me and my darling little Cockatiel, Tiny.  The bird who wasn't expected to survive lived for years, loved and cherished by me and later by my husband as well.  Tiny will live in our hearts forever, the memory of her zest for life a constant inspiration!
Have you ever cared for a baby animal whose survival was uncertain?  Please leave us a comment and share!  We love hearing from our readers.

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24 comments:

  1. Mom once had canaries that mated and laid eggs. Only one egg hatched and the same thing happened - the Mom would not feed the baby bird. Mom got a formula recipe from the vet and she did the same thing with a syringe. Sadly once the baby was old enough to fly, its legs were so mangled that it couldn't land. It kept batting itself to the ground or on the sides of the cages. It was just horrible to watch. Mom did the only humane thing she could and let the vet give baby canary its heavenly wings:(

    We are so happy to read that your Tiny was able to survive. Thanks for sharing the story.

    Woos - Lightning and Misty

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    1. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear your little baby bird did not survive. We didn't expect Tiny to live, but she lasted for years. She was able to fly a bit but couldn't land all that well. She was able to sit on a perch in the cage & wobble around on the floor. We kept her wings clipped so she wouldn't injure herself upon landing. She was a happy, sweet bird and lived for several years. She was very loved. Thanks for sharing your little bird's story.

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  2. What a great story! I hand-fed two baby cockatiels and we kept one and the other went to my brother-in-law. Ours learned to whistle the theme from Andy Griffith and worked in conjunction with our schnauzer to alert us to people passing by our home. LOL!

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    1. That's so cool! I can't believe your bird could whistle the Andy Griffith tune, LOL! It's great that the two were friends & co-security guards of the house. Thanks for sharing that great story!

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  3. What a beautiful story. We're so glad Tiny survived and you had a number of happy years with her.

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    1. Thanks Jan! I was so happy that she survived as well. She lived happily for years and was an important part of our lives. We adored her.

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  4. What a story! That must have been so hard, watching helplessly as this tiny bird begged for love and food. So glad that you were able to intervene and help Tiny out, and that her feathered father stepped up in the end. I love happy endings

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    1. It really was a happy ending, Tiny lived for years and was so loved! She really added a lot of joy to our family.

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  5. That's so cool! I am so glad that you brought Tiny home and she became part of your family. Love it!

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  6. What a story! Glad to hear Tiny survived and had a happy ending. My parents have always had birds too.

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  7. When I was 11 or 12, my sister's gerbils had babies. The parents rejected one, so my sister told me I could try and save it. I named him Herman, fed him with an eye dropper, and he thrived. We had him for over a year, but we were moving to California, so I had to give him away.

    I also had Cockatiels for several years. We raised some of the babies when they hatched. It was exhausting getting up every 2 hours to feed them. I would like to get another Cockatiel one day. When I visited Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, several of the cockatiels landed on me. I really loved interacting with birds again.

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  8. Thank you for sharing Tiny's story! I imagine the two of you formed quite the bond.

    Shortly after I got my puppy Chuckles, he got sick. He did so badly, I slept on the floor with him until he recovered. I have a few special memories like this of him. He was my best friend in my young adult years.

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  9. Tiny was so lucky that you were there to help and nurture her!!! The love that baby animals give is like no other! <3

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  10. Birds can make wonderful pets when treated right.

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  11. What a wonderful story! So glad you still have Tiny. Aunt Pauline's dad found a day old abandoned kitten and syringe-fed her. She lived 19 years.

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  12. Tiny is adorable and I love the story of how she triumphed despite a very rocky start to life. Glad her father stepped in at the end!

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  13. What a lovely story. It shows your kind nurturing nature. Very inspirational.

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  14. Awwww now I love ❤️ Happy ending!! Thank you for a fabulous story Cathy :-)

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  15. What a beautiful story! My dad is a bird lover and has owned a bird, not to mention caring for injured ones. There doesn't have to be 4 legs for you to bond with a beloved pet. Love Dolly

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  16. What a wonderful story, it is so hard to see when the parents reject their babies as you sometimes feel helpless although Tiny was one of the lucky ones, thanks for sharing

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  17. Such a sweet story. Glad Tiny survived and was able to bring you joy.

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  18. Awwww what a lovely story. Thanks so much for sharing.
    I have never owned birds before but this was heartwarming

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  19. Sounds like you were meant to be right there to help Tiny grow strong. What an inspiration! I'm amazed that her father began feeding her after she got stronger. Lovely story. ~Rascal and Rocco

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  20. What a wonderful story!!! Tiny was an amazing bird and so lucky to have you for a momma. Growing up I had a parakeet (who loved to perch upside, but that's a story for another day)! It's so wonderful you have photos as part of your fond memories as well. When I was a young teen, my brother brought home what we all thought was a baby gray mouse. He insisted it was a red fox, that the mom had been hit on the road and he pulled over to discover the nest. My mom had me get a doll bottle that we used to nurse the baby "Whatever It Was" and it did indeed drink, grew, and became a healthy gorgeous red fox! From the bond we formed, it stayed living on our property in horse barn, loved dog kibble, and would run when called by name right up my leg and perch on my shoulder. Animals are so amazing!

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