And Then There Were Four

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Yesterday I said how we were a little bit worried how Manky was always being left on his own but by late evening they had bonded nicely and were all huddling together.  Three little blue tits wedged together at one of a loo roll tube!

They wake with the dawn and are immediately hungry.  From then until dark they have accustomed themselves to our hourly feed routine and are very insistent from about ten to!  Even Manky has now got the hang of the routine, he was a little bit off his food yesterday.  It was funny to notice that when he first arrived he was very wary of us but within minutes of being de-manked and hearing his siblings chatter to him, he quite readily accepted food from our hand.  We think that they had told him that we meant food.  Their chatter seemed to have calmed him at least.

We have blended the beef stroganoff baby food (we chose the one with the highest protein count) with milk to make it very smooth and have poured into ice-cube trays.  Frozen it will last for a lot longer because one jar of baby food goes a lot further with baby blue tits than it does with a baby human.  And ice cubes are just the right portion size.  The milk will make sure that they get enough calcium, the mealworms aren’t very nutritious in this regard.  It’s also better for hydration.  We defrost it for thirty seconds in the microwave and leave it to cool just a little (because husband feels that they shouldn’t get used to hot dinners, it just isn’t natural!) before serving it up with a syringe.  Blended with the milk it’s lovely and smooth.  For them and the syringe.  They seem to really relish it.  Manky particularly, more than the worms.  However we can’t give them too many beef stroganoff meals because otherwise they end up with really runny poop.

Yes, I mentioned poop again.  It’s important that they poop, you know.

We’ve acquired a small tank to keep them in, on the internet some people hold against keeping them in tanks but there is a difference between a great glass aquarium and the little holding tank that we’re using.  It’s just a wee plastic thing that you can use for all sorts of beasties and has a really well ventilated lid.  It’s cool because you can see them all the time but it’s so tempting to take photos of them and of course you get all sorts of crazy reflections!

We wash out the tank daily and change all the paper.  We’ve also given them a loo roll to hide in.  It was Manky’s favourite place until he got accepted into the fold.  Then at night we place the tank on a covered hot water bottle to make sure that they don’t get too cold.  How that’s possible in this heat I don’t know!  We’re not using one during the day however.

Manky has the funny wing feathers but Birdie has a very scruffy, baldy chin.  When they stretch their wings, you can see all their bald skeletal shape, almost foetal, still.  I don’t like that.  Feisty is bigger and has some dots on his head.

What I didn’t say yesterday was that we thought that another one had gone down the wall.  We could hear it calling.  But there didn’t seem much hope for it even though Manky’s escape seemed to have made things more optimistic.  You have to keep realistic.  There doesn’t seem to be much of an escape hole below us and besides which, there’s a dog down there.  Nature isn’t always very friendly.  Gravity doesn’t do baby birds much good either.

The neighbour knocked our door again this morning.

Husband went down and retrieved another baby from her bathroom.

I say ‘baby’ but this guy is huge.  He’s almost like a full-grown blue tit.  We think he’s male from his hair do.  Male blue tits sport a wannabe rocker style.  They probably use brylcreem in the mornings.  He earned his name from his cunning plan.  Well, we couldn’t call him Manky too even though we had to cut away a whole load of detritus from his feet.  In husband’s hand he suddenly went very still and limp.  Husband losened his grip to check that the thing was still alive.  (Stress is a killer).  He miraculously springs back to live and makes a very speedy dash for freedom.  Say hello to Sneaky.

Sneaky is a lot more advanced than the other three.  (We’re wondering if blue tits lay their eggs apart or if these parents have a little too much favouritism going on!)  In fact he’s as big as the other three put together.  Yes, including Feisty in that too.  He’s using his wings to propel himself all the time and has a proper grown up bird hop/bounce thing across the ground.  He didn’t take at all kindly to captivity and went absolutely nuts.  He eventually deigned to take food from us.  But we haven’t handled him at all since to give him a chance to settle, although after a few meals we did start stroking his head to start accustoming him to the contact.  He remained aloof from his baby siblings all day.  Oh, and he makes a lot more noise.  Constantly.  He’s also a dirty little stop-out, keeping them all awake to half past ten!

The challenge just got a little more challenging.

It’s the noise that absolutely exhausts me.  I suffer with hyperacusis anyway.  Sensory stimuli drain me.  And there’s no rest, every hour on the hour it’s feeding time.  And for at least fifteen minutes beforehand, they’ll start reminding you just in case you dare forget.  Then sometimes in between times they’ll have a good old chatter, with themselves, with their siblings, with you.

But what’s sweet is that now Sneaky has accepted his baby siblings and is all huddled up with them this evening, four little, ahem, three little and one big blue tit babies in a corner.

Sleeping, hopefully.

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19 thoughts on “And Then There Were Four

  1. Oh wow! Sneaky’s wings are so much more developed than the other three. Is it possible that there are two nests? Or has this crazy Mama just laid the full compliment of 20 eggs? Have you been checking the number to find out about your firstling?

    • Not yet, we’ll give it a little while longer. They’re at very different stages, I don’t know if they’re developing quicker in the nest or if they hatched at different times or what. When we hear about Baby Number One, we’ll let you all know too! :)

  2. Diane Turner

    I loved reading this post. Years ago my mother used to rescue baby sparrows that had fallen from the nests made in the rounded Spanish tiles on the roof of our house. Most died after a few days, but several lived to adulthood. She fed them chicken mash mixed with warm milk and water. As they grew, they graduated to stouter stuff – worms and arrays of small bugs. She wasn’t sure they ate those things in the wild, but in our back porch they devoured whatever she offered. One lived nearly 4 years inside, another nearly 6, and they rode around on her shoulder. Your piece was a wonderful reminder of those times. Thank you.

I'd love to know what you think, concrit is especially welcomed on fiction pieces. Thank you.

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