OK, you can call me nuts but yes, I did actually drive 25 miles one morning to taxi a tiny house finch from my garage to the Schuylkill Wildlife Rehab Clinic.
And no, the little bird wasn’t in need of that kind of rehab. He (or she) needed to be in the hands of wildlife experts to get him (or her) grown up enough to take to the skies and be with other finches. Or whatever else house finches do.
It all began this week when my oldest son (who likes to camp out at my house on the weekends) came upstairs from our basement looking out a kitchen bay window. I raised an eyebrow of course wondering what the heck he was doing.
“Don’t you hear that?” he asked. I looked at him and said I had no clue what he was talking about and wondered what he was hearing that no one else was. Then he grabbed his younger brother and the two of them went out wandering in the side yard.
A few minutes later Dr. Doolittle and his young apprentice came back into the house proudly proclaiming that they had found a baby bird. I quickly told them to leave it alone saying that the mom was probably nearby and would take care of things. I of course had no basis of fact for anything like that but hoped they indeed would leave it alone.
But before you could say Fringillidae – the scientific name for a finch – the bird was residing in a small green tub like container usually occupied by the stump of the Christmas tree. Complete with shreds of grass, a dandelion or two and a little bit of dirt.
Thanks to Google and a readily available menu of eats for a house finch, the family dog’s supply of food was down a half-cup or so. Every two hours this bird – later nicknamed Chirpmaster Chirp – was supposed to eat. And fed with a long pair of tweezers no less. And eat he did. Chirping all the time.
CMC was a happy fellow. We will assume it was a he bird and not a she bird just for the sake of discussion. Every time I walked past the container the chirping would start and when I would look in he had his mouth open hoping for some of Bella’s dog food. I gotta think it beats worms but who am I to judge?
By Sunday night it was like we were caring for a real infant left on the doorstep. Calls for bringing him inside to temporarily reside, things of that nature which were met with a prompt “no.” Hey, I am all about helping out here but my nightmare was that CMC would take flight throughout the house and I would be left calming down a hysterical wife and daughter, something I wasn’t about to deal with.
So in the garage he stayed.
Then the search began. Let’s face it, finding places to take a baby bird is not like finding a pizza shop. Telephone calls were met with either no, no answer or a number change with no new number.
Then I remembered the Schuylkill Wildlife folks. Many, many years before this I took an injured adult bird there for some medical care. So I went online and found their website: www.schuylkillcenter.org.
I sort of remembered how to get there but I used my GPS to be sure. It is tucked back on Port Royal Avenue off of Ridge in the Roxborough section of Philly. You drive onto a gravel entrance road where at least I was met by a pair of goats. Interesting, I thought. I got out of my car and was accompanied by the goat duet to the front door of the clinic.
These guys are just amazing and they are so nice. A young man took a quick look at CMC and declared him fit as a fiddle. CMC just needs to get a little bigger. So off the little finch went to the back area of the clinic where I am certain he will be getting the best of care until his release back into nature.
So what did we learn from all of this? Well, we learned that I am still as much of a sucker for animals as always. We also learned that my kids in fact do have an appreciation for nature, animals and their welfare and a desire to help those in need and less fortunate – like CMC.
CMC even has his own case number – 1303. And we can call about him later to see how he is doing. I would say we could visit but I doubt he would remember us. Alas.
And I hope this touching story has left you in a giving way. The clinic needs stuff like tissues, bleach, paper towels, laundry detergent, latex gloves, canned and dry dog and cat food. If you could drop some off to these guys that would be great. If not, email me and I will even come pick it up.
Places like the Schuylkill Wildlife Rehab Clinic are rare. And they need our help. I never want to ever drive there with another wild creature only to find it closed or unable to care for a critter because they needed money and supplies and didn’t have it or them.
So I will always remember our little adventure with CMC. I’m sure he will grow up to be a fine adult bird. And hopefully he will teach his baby finches good things. But we need to do our part first.