My girls are always finding things outside in the woods or down by the stream. One day April came to me with a tiny uncracked egg. “Mommy, can we hatch it? PLEEEEEEEZE? I want to see if a baby bird comes out!”
Needless to say, I was skeptical that this wee egg would have a viable baby bird inside. But we decided to put the little cell inside an empty nest we had found a previous day. Of course, April looked up on Google what kind of egg it was. We learned she had rescued an egg of a House Finch.
We placed the nest with egg on the kitchen counter, next to the fridge- maybe the noise would help it sleep. We put a shadeless lamp sideways down overtop of the nest. We left the little egg there for three days. Every day we looked hoping to see a crack. Nothing. My husband Bradley was doubtful and thought we should end our experiment, but I said, “Let’s give it one more night.”
The following day, unfortunately after April had gone to NY to visit her grandparents, I was chatting with my friend Emily on the telephone when I screamed mid-sentence! “It cracked!! Oh my goodness- a baby bird is coming out!!!!!” Bradley and the other girls came running downstairs to see the tiniest baby bird any of us had ever seen crack out of this little egg and wiggle around, searching for mama and of course, food.
Uh oh. I was a mama, but not for a bird. (The children’s book, “Are You My Mother?” came to mind immediately). I went running outside with my spade to dig up some worms. Then realizing they needed to be chewed up or placed in my food processor….well, I drew the line there. (Yuck!) Luckily my calmer husband ‘Googled’ what to feed a baby bird, if you aren’t a mama bird.
Believe it or not? Moist cat food via a toothpick was the recommendation! Thank goodness we have three cats and lots of moist cat food cans! So, every 15 minutes we inserted the food-laden toothpick into “Junior’s” very open mouth. And he/she ate so well! The poor little thing could hardly hold its head up for very long, but it did eat.
We called April in NY that night and she was very disappointed that she missed the hatching, but was so happy he/she was alive. We let her name the little tyke, and she chose ‘Jackie’. Not knowing if it were a male or female, this name seemed to fit well.
For the remainder of the night, we kept up the feedings and kept Jackie warm under the lamp, just as we had when he/she was only an egg. Jackie made it through the night and the next morning, we agreed to put him/her into a nest of House Finches that we discovered above the swing set, in a bent birch tree limb. (We supposed that this is where the original egg fell from, as April remembered she found it by the swings.)
We held our breath as we watched the mama House Finch fly off in search of vittles for her wee ones. Bradley gently placed Jackie and the egg shells into the nest and noticed two other siblings that Jackie could eventually fly with, peeping for breakfast. Once mama bird came back she fed all the babies, Jackie included! What an amazing experience!
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