Sunday, 1 May 2016

Feathered Friends Tom, Dick & Harry 20-28 Apr 2016

We've been hibernating at home in this crazy tropical heat, which sometimes peaked to 40C. One of those things you couldn't avoid during this El Nino heatwave is 'air-conditioning'. We tried to spend some time in the backyard, so we didn't have to coop inside all the time. Only two of the boys were on holidays, so we couldn't really go away, and mainly cos of the kitchen renovation too, which took 3 weeks. Apart from eating out, we gotta bear with the dust, noise and mess in the house. The boys have to look for their own entertainment in gym, playing football and watching our guests in the garden. Once we're excited by 3 bird eggs on our mulberry tree. The nest was badly built, like half-done. We tried to strengthen the nest, but our action caused the parents to abandon it entirely. Sadly, the eggs were destroyed in a bad storm one night. We also saw a hanging nest, like a wasp nest on a tree branch. But nothing prepared us for the thing that's gonna happened next.



Much to our delight, something unusual happened. Well, not really, we've many close encounters almost every year, between Feb-Apr, but we've never gone this far. One day when I was talking to the contractor, a small lump fell right before my eyes from the kitchen roof! And it was a live baby Eurasian Tree Sparrow! It's still a fledgling, but the eyes were opened with feathers covered in parts of the body. So we guess it should be at least 10 days old. It's quite traumatised at first, and hungry every 1.5 to 2 hours. We gave it some dog food (soaked) and banana, yes it's an acceptable food for a fledgling. Feeding was the most fun part for us. We're so thrilled and amazed that the bird responded to us so quickly.


This was Day 3. Fledgling still responded well to us. It has more feathers covering its body and more alert than before. It would go to sleep when it's full. The best thing was, no feeding was required at night. At this stage, the chick could not take water yet, only soft, soaked food or fruits. We could hear more chirping in the roof cavity, and we knew there're more chicks there.


 It's an amazing journey for us taking care of a young life that's totally dependent on others for survival.


Our contractor took down the nest cos it's in the way of the renovation. Guess how many more chicks we found??? So now we've three. They're Tom, Dick and Harry. We named the first one that we found - 'Harry'. And thus the Three Musketeers were reunited. What a reunion! They snuggled together, just like in the nest before. We couldn't tell their gender, according to Google, there's not much difference in appearance at first. But there's one obviously bigger than the rest, and tougher-looking too. We named it "Tom". Dick was the smallest in size and very inactive. We've to constantly keep them warm, which was not difficult in this hot weather.


Day 5: We did't tag the chicks, but we've no problem identifying them. Harry was the most active and medium-sized, thus that's why it fell off the roof I guess! It's obvious they grew fast, and stronger by the day too. 


We didn't take over the parenting job. When we first had Harry, we've to feed it cos the parents were so focused on the remaining chicks in the nest. Finally, when we took down the nest, the chicks were not responding to us. Perhaps they're still traumatised by the interference. We're not sure at this stage if the parents would continue to take care or abandon their little ones. We put the birds in a container and left it in our backyard. The parents were always there, this was for sure. They're always watching our every move. They let out an excited series of tschip calls, but when they felt threats, they would let out a harsh teck, like Stormtrooper's laser gun and swoop down on the suspects. They would only leave when it's dark, and never fail to be there every morning between 7.00-8.00 am.


Day 7: Tom's first flight. The biggest bird, as expected, was ready for its first flight. It hopped and flew short distance and not so perfect at first. The parents were nearby cheering it on in their harsh teck, probably cos of our presence. A handsome babe indeed!


Parent feeding in action. The parents were always overly cautious and protective of their young. It's so hard to see it feeding at first. We have to trust the order of nature, and we saw the chicks growing day by day, so we knew that the parents were doing their job. Though we kept shifting the location of the man-made nest, the parents would follow faithfully. Ever present, ever watchful, ever protective, ever responsible. Ocassionally, a robin would be curious and tried to approach the nest, but the parents would immediately sprang into action, fending off the robin or crow or human.


Dick and Harry learned to fly on Day 8. Harry was not very good, and ended up in our backyard from time to time. Thanks to Cookie, we tracked it down immediately and put it back into the nest before it fell prey to other birds or animals or even Cookie. Finally, after many attempts on day 9, it was successful. The family flew away together, chirping happily, flying from branch to branch and soon out of sight. We thought we'd never see them again. The thought of keeping Harry was very tempting. But we knew it would be happier with the family. On subsequent days, much to our surprise, we saw them ie with the parents as well. They came back in the mid mornings, for a while and entertained us with their songs, before they disappeared again. Wondered why they would do that. Nature is indeed full of mysteries. Though we don't keep them, it's as though they're always near us, and always happy. It has been a fulfilling journey as an eyewitness.

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