Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Birding: The Chronicles of the 3 Orphaned Starlings


This is Starling 1 & 2 on Day 20, before they took off. :(

The story thus far.

J and I found the our little starlings just one week old. Barenaked as newborns can be. We took them in, lovingly cared for them, hand fed them till they became strong, with their feathers all grown out.

Every day while I was at work, J would take them outside to work on strengthening their wings. Very soon, they started to flap their wings frequently. We kept them outdoors during the day, so they could be exposed to sunlight and the sounds of their surroundings.

I came home from work on Day 18. J placed the biggest and strongest starling on a post. He clapped his hands twice, opened his palms and the bird flew to him. My jaw dropped. What has he been teaching them while I was away??? I picked up the second biggest, it perched on my arm, flapped its way to my shoulder and sat there for a bit. I almost shed tears of joy. However, I also knew that our days with these babies is coming to an end. We didn't name them after all. Aside from Little Runt, they were all called "Chickies" collectively.

Keeping them in the house has been a challenge because they keep flying out of their box. We keep the box in the bathroom when the lizards are out of their tanks. If we have our air on, they sleep in the towel-lined box next to a small space heater to keep them warm.

Day 19 - In the evening, we took the chickies outside to work on their flying. They pecked around at bugs they found, and the bigger two were testing their flight a lot more. We were worried about Little Runt who seemed more eager to stay in his box. I set out a shallow dish of water. Starling 1 & 2 took a drink for the first time! Starling 2 even took a bird bath and splashed around in the water! When the day was done, we had quite a difficult time trying to get them back into their box.

Day 20 - I took them outside again yesterday morning. Once Starling 1 got used to the surroundings, he took off, flew onto a branch in a tree. I followed him with my eyes until i could see him no longer and whispered a heart broken goodbye.

Starling 2 hopped behind the bushes, and refused to come out, so i turned my focus on Little Runt. I tried to coax Little Runt to fly, but he seemed content hopping around on the ground. I read somewhere that fledglings need a day or two on the ground before they start to fly. So I went inside the house.

When I came back outside, I could not find Starling 2. I figured he took off just like his bigger brother. Feeling very sad, i called out to Little Runt to feed him. I found him on the ground so I picked him up and was getting ready to feed him. Now I keep their food in a glass bowl and whenever I feed them, I clink the bowl a little with my chopsticks. I think they got used to the sound, because when I clinked my bowl this time, Starling 2 flew out of nowhere and landed on my bowl! I was so surprised, but fed him anyway. After 2 mouthfuls, he flew away. Little Runt took off behind those bushes as well.

At this point, I simply gave up. I stopped chasing after them. I don't think I am meant to keep them anymore. It is time to say good bye and set them free. They will have to learn fast in order to survive, but I believe they're smart little birds. I came outside several more times during the day and caught a few glimpses of the chickies each time. I convinced myself they were doing great, and so this chapter has come to an end.

Such a strange way to experience motherhood. Now I am feeling the empty nest syndrome.


  1. you are so good at letting them go! I would have been so attached to the little birds...sounds like you two did a great job preparing them for independance!

  2. Such a touching story about the chickies! I'm glad that they've survived! You took good care of them. I'm sure they were happy in your house.

  3. awww, so sad! They look so funny and brainy in that photos. I'll miss reading about them! I hope they will do good :) x

  4. So sad! The birds are lucky they found you. I wonder if they'll remember you?


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