Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tiny Tim and Mary (Masked-Weaver chick and his/her mother)

(preview of the full story still being edited)

Birds and animals are amazing. We can learn so much from them.

Yesterday I noticed that one of the weaver nests broke apart in the wind. By watching the behavior of the male, I knew where I would find the chick.

From past experience I have realized that leaving the chick to fend for itself meets with disaster, the chick always dies.

I just had to take it and feed it myself, I thought. It was too small for the bird cage, so I created a nice warm nest like padded cup and put the little thing in there, then I placed it in a little mouse cage with a sliding lid on top. The chick was very quiet. It just sat there with its mouth open.

I mixed some Pronutro, which we keep in the cupboard to feed injured birds, and gave him some until he no longer kept his mouth open then I put a wooly cloth over him and tucked him in for the night

This morning it was lying so still that I thought it died during the night, but when I touched it, it stirred - still in a deep sleep.
I cleaned the cage and gave him another two feeds of Pronutro. Because I expected visitors, I took his cage from the lounge and put it outside by the undercover braai on top of the music center but under an indoor washing line.

It is a very windy day and since weavers normally have a closed nest I put a cloth over the cage. The little thing never made a sound. I could not tell if it was stressed or comfortable.

While looking out of the kitchen window, I noticed the female weaver on the washing line looking around for her chick that fell from the nest the day before. It so happens that the tree where the nest was is next to the braai.

I then decided to remove the lid and cloth from the cage and returned to the kitchen window to watch what was happening.

The weaver soon returned and it did not take her long to spot her chick. She immediately flew away and came back with an insect in her beak. It took her a while to figure out how to get to the chick She hopped around the cage and jumped back onto the washing line and down again until she found herself above the cage on the line. Puzzle solved, and she jumped into the cage. I herd the response from the chick immediately. She fed the chick and regarded it as the nest from then onwards. She fed the chick about every 15 minutes or so until it fell asleep. Then she would just sit near the chick on the washing line.

My only worry is that the ants may find the cage during the night because of all the Pronutro I spilled in it. I think I shall bring it in tonight and clean the cage and put it out again tomorrow.

Humans can learn a lot about dedication and care for the young from birds and animals.

The thought came to me that without her chick, life must have lost its purpose because she spends all day looking for food and bringing it to the nest.

We still have a long way to go because the little thing has all its feathers but it is very small. Lets hope this one will make it and next-door’s cat does not catch the mother.

I like to name things so I think I shall call them Tiny-Tim and Mary. The male already has a name. We call all male Masked-weavers Boytjie because you cannot tell one male from the other.

It is a bit like how I named my chickens back in the days when I farmed with them. I named them by color. All the white ones were Aggie, the black ones Freda and the red ones Betsie. My friends were very impressed with my ability to remember all their names.

I shall keep you posted about the outcome.

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