Well, good morning to you all! I hope you had a fine weekend. I’ve been meaning to do an official blog post about the cedar waxwing chick I have been taking care of for the past couple of weeks but have been so busy catching him grasshoppers to eat and trying to keep up with every day life that I just haven’t been able to find time to. But this morning, there is a small window of time available for me to give you an official introduction and explanation of how this little bird came to be in my care.
This is Mister Titus McFlightus. He is a Cedar Waxwing chick.
Over at the smokejumper base, he was found in the grass beneath a tree and it was presumed that he fell out of his nest before it was time. The boys took care of him for a day or so, Robert called me multiple times to try to get to me fetch the poor thing and bring him home to care for him and I was rather wary of this plan, not because I didn’t think I could care for a little bird, but because I knew I would fall in love with it and if it died I would be terribly sad. You know, little birds are delicate things, you don’t know how delicate until you’re trying to keep one alive. We went out to pizza that night, with all the boys, and one of them had Titus in the breast pocket of his button down shirt and he was so tiny then with hardly any wings and just a nubbin of a tail and I wound up taking him home that night and have been his happy little human slave ever since.
Having a wild animal as a pet is such a romantic way of living. I’ve always wanted to have something wild to take care of and live with. But I have to tell you something very important — wild things are very wild and they are never really tamed. Also, they’re a lot of work. I had no idea that Titus would eat between six and eight breakfasts before noon, every day. I feed him cherries, blueberries and raspberries along with living grasshoppers of varying sizes that I catch by hand outside our home here. He asks me for food constantly. And I have to feed him! So I do. But it is a tremendous amount of work and it’s only because I work from home and have an alternative work schedule that I can make this a possibility, and for that I am glad, but I just wanted to make it clear that raising a wild little baby bird is not for everyone and one should seriously consider the responsibility before making the commitment.
I know. I know. He’s just a little bird. But I already love him a bit and I want him to live and be healthy and happy. I really don’t want to fail at this so I am dedicated to the work, no matter the amount of work, and in that way, it’s been a real growing experience for me, raising Titus as his mother bird would.
Now let it be known, catching live grasshoppers for this little bird is very icky work. I don’t have a love for grasshoppers. I am from the Canadian prairies where the grasshoppers grow up to be the size of pick-up trucks and their nasty, grinding mandibles are like backhoe scoops clawing away, ripping and tearing at things. Don’t even get me started on their horny, thorny feet. Ugh. Well, I’ve had to overcome my disgust of the darn things because I probably handle about 30 or more a day now — such nasty mastication machines dribbling their horrible tobacco juices. Titus is a little bit racist and prefers the hoppers with green skin (their skin seems to be less woody, if that makes sense, they are softer, more pliable, easier to swallow). I oblige him when I am able. He also prefers his cherry meat without the skin, for the most part, unless he’s really hungry. So I peel him most of his cherries as well. He eats a couple of times an hour. Sometimes, if I’m in the middle of work, I just feed him whenever I am able to take a break which can sometimes be every hour and a half or so — longer stretches. I just feed him when I can, as often as I can.
Last week, when he was needier, I was having to take him to the smokejumper base to be babysat by the boys while I was out running errands. It was hard to get anything done. I have to be very watchful about keeping doors and windows closed. Additionally, I have to constantly watch to make sure the cats and dogs are not coming in the house when he is out of the safety of the sun room. I really am his bird mother.
He is now beginning to fly around, quite a lot, larger distances. Our house is a high ceiling-ed cabin style home and he’s always perching up on the side beams in the rafters and zooming about the kitchen when he’s in the mood to zoom. It can get him in trouble. He fell in the dishwater a few days ago.
He’s quite the sassy fellow in the mornings. When I wake up, I immediately find him two grasshoppers outside, let him out of his sleep basket in the sun room, feed him those bugs because he’s going berserkers asking for food (flapping his wings, gaping, cheeping and jumping off the floor). In the kitchen, I place him on the window perch in the sunshine and immediately give him a few pieces of cherry meat as well as two droplets of water from my fingertip to hydrate him. I pour him a shallow bird bath in a dish and place him in the water if he doesn’t hop down himself. Then begins his wild little ablution circus. I wish you could see it in person.
When he is finished bathing, he is quite pleased with himself. I place him back on his perch in the sun where he drys and fluffs his feathers in the warmth of the day.
Having him and caring for him has been special. I know I said it’s a lot of work, and it is, but it’s a lot of fun too. I won’t fib about that.
So there you have it! The small and mighty Mister Titus McFlightus. I’ll give him a kiss on his dapper little beak for you.