I have a new skill to add to my resume: bird mom.
East (or Tweet) is flourishing. She--yes she turned out to be female--ate close to a tablespoon of food today. A week ago I was trying to get her to just open her beak for me, then I cheered when I was able to feed her one morsel. We both have learned. She chirps imperiously when hungry and has all the vigor of a shark when she sees her spoon coming her way. I now feel empathy for bird parents as they try to gather enough sustenance for a growing brood. I'm relieved that I have only one nestling to care for. As it is, I'm tied to her schedule and make no forays lasting longer than an hour.
She's a bit of a messy eater, but is particular about not spoiling her "nest". In fact, we refer to her as the New World Blast-ended Skrewt (for all you fellow Harry Potter fans).
I've thought more than once that there is a strong kinship between a puppy and a nestling sparrow. East wakes up and wants to eat. She eats and predictably poops. She eats dog food. I know, dog food, who would've thunk it? But that's what's recommended and it does seem to work.
I grind up some kibble in the blender and add water until it's absorbed. I keep it refrigerated and spoon out a teaspoon at a time, adding more water till it has a gruel-ish texture and is room temperature ('cause babies need it like that). It slides right down her gullet and I'm amazed at how much she can eat at one feeding: ten tidbits are the currrent record! When she's full, she might still cheep, but she doesn't open her beak in that endearing way young birds have.
She loves her towel-lined box and finds a way to cuddle into the folds of the towel when she naps. She flutters her wings when I need to move her, so I hope that leaving the nest is coming up soon. Her parents never did come to East's box when it was on the roof, but I've been watching them as they come and go to their nest, so that I'll know when it's time for East to leave her "nest" and enter the wide world with her siblings. Will her parents care for her along with the others? I've got my fingers crossed. If not, I have the example my older son set years ago as he and his best friend successfully taught their little fledgling to forage for bugs and seeds before she finally flew away on her own.
She's really been fun to mother. I'm quite fond of her wide hungry yellow beak and it tickles me to see her little tongue. Her eyes are lively, finally, and her feathers are growing nicely. Like most kids, she hates having her mouth cleaned after a meal. She had a rocky start with her double fall off the roof, but she's a survivor!
I'm planning a photo shoot tomorrow. I wish my camera took better closeups; I might have to borrow my sweetie's to get a keeper of a picture.