We're in the Orange High football stadium. Without the tripod it was impossible to get her "touching" the light. The sky makes up for it!
Fast forward a couple hours, I look out the kitchen window and the baby blue jay is sitting beside the chicken ark! I went outside to check it out and once I talked to him and the chickens noticed they all came to the edge of the run and tried to peck him! Good grief, the poor little guy just wanted some feathered companionship. I moved him back to the pen and hoped his parents would find him.
An hour later I look out the window and don't see anything, so I go outside to check on him. Yep, right by the pen again. I picked him up and he peeped at me and flapped his little wings. He was definitely hungry. Dried mealworms are a favorite chicken treat so I went in and got some while Richard held him.
As you can see, there are some real feathers, so he wasn't so small and helpless, but he was very clumsy. I was breaking the mealworms in half and giving them to him. He ate a few but it wasn't going so well. Richard did some research on the interwebs and it said to get a box and put some grass in it and hook it to the side of the tree where the bird was found and it's parents' will find it and feed it. We did see a blue jay flutter around for a minute, but no landing and feeding. We got a box, filled it with grass, and brought it inside. The bird was still hungry so I moistened some meal worms and he ate about four and then his eyes started to close and he was out like a light. Food coma happens to birds too! Richard found the Animal Rescue number and I called. They asked if I could text them a picture of him (of course) and then they would get back to me. I sent them the picture above and they called back to say "put him back outside, in two days he'll be able to take care of himself. He's a fledgling and he has a good chance." I mentioned the two dogs and two cats in the house and the woman said to try and keep them indoors as much as possible. Really?
Richard and I talked about it, it didn't seem likely he would last for two days without food and being dog/cat bait. As I was pondering Richard said, "Whatever you do, don't name it." And I replied, "Bob is going to be fine." Richard rolled his eyes.
Bob would wake up and chirp (really quietly for a blue jay, in my opinion) and I'd give him some meal worms. He'd literally try and swallow part of my finger to help the food get down. Two days and he's not going to need to eat like this? Surrogate bird mothering is intense, but not like kids. They chirp, you give them a few worms, and they're asleep. There was a lot more rigamorole with children as I recall.
We decided to stay at Richard's house that night, so he took Bob with him and I took the dogs and his cat. Tiger-Cato and Button are BFF but after a couple lack luster traveling experiences, he stays behind and is much happier. Richard reported Bob flapped his wings and chirped most of the way. We wanted to go hit some golf balls, but that would mean Bob would miss a few feedings. I figured he'd had quite a few mealworms and he should be fine for an hour or so. When we got back he was cheeping up a storm! Mac was whimpering and I didn't know if it was because he wanted us to do something to make Bob stop, or because he wanted us to put Bob down so he could eat him. Mac, as a Westie, is a hunter by nature (small animal only - he gave up on deer shortly after his arrival to the country). This is an example of Mac hunting (his nickname is BuddhaMac because he'll sit under trees and stare upwards for hours) or waiting for a squirrel to fall. It's open to interpretation.
The great thing about baby birds is they want food every fifteen minutes while it's light, but they'll sleep the whole night! Absolutely brilliant. I decided that being cooped up in a box isn't the best thing for a bird that is supposed to be self-sufficient in the next 24 hours and I took Bob outside. I'd notice while moving him around his box at feedings (as with all babies when food goes in one end, something comes out the other) that his right foot didn't seem to have any grabbing coordination at all. I wanted to see if there was something wrong or he was just getting the hang of it and I found a twig to perch him on.
He seemed pretty excited. There was a lot of cheeping and wing flapping. Every time he cheeped his wings would go out and up a little bit. He seemed to fit right in at my house - there's quite a bit of talking with hands here. I was sitting on the ground, talking to Bob, watching him practice when all of a sudden this black fur came flying up and swatted at Bob! Luckily Button got my hand and I hopped up and put him in the house. Bob seemed unaware that anything was amiss. Now that Button was onto the bird things were going to be trickier. I put Bob down and let him figure out how to get off the branch and hop about for a bit.
He looks kind of cranky in that picture, but it's just his affect. His disposition was sunny enough. Anyway, the new deal was when Bob is in the house the cat is out; when Button is in the house, Bob is on the deck. Worked quite well and Bob slept through the night again.
Monday morning and it was time for Eowyn, Bob, and I to head back to our house. For some strange reason, Eowyn decided she was not getting out of the car. Maybe she was hoping our destination was somewhere more exciting for dogs or maybe since it was cooler outside that morning she thought that was the place to be. Whatever her reason she wouldn't get out and I left the door open in case she changed her mind. At one point I noticed a flash of blue out of the corner of my eye and looked over at the tree where I found Bob. There was another baby blue jay! And it was being fed by it's parents! I went and got Bob from inside and told him the news. I placed him down by his sibling (it's right eye was white and glassy). It's peeped wasn't as strong as Bob's and I was hoping it had been ousted from the nest on purpose.
I walked away and sat at a distance so I could see if the parents came back. No concerned bird parents were appearing and Bob was cheeping for a snack. I moistened some meal worms and headed over. I gave him one and heard concerned cheeping from the tree - not angry, but definitely concerned - it was Bob's parents! I backed up and apologized and she kept looking at Bob and I think she was telling him not to take worms from strangers. She came down and gave him a bug! He was back with his family! It was very sweet. His dad came down and checked on him too. There wasn't a big to-do, more like, "we're glad you're back let's move forward. One more day and you're on your own " and all that.
The peeps came back and got to see Bob and Bobbette (as we affectionately referred to them) and we kept Tiger-Cato indoors most of the time, but he does like to go out now and again. One of the times he was out I didn't see him, but I could hear the blue jays screeching like crazy so I went out and called for him. He came creeping sheepishly out of the shrubbery a good twenty feet from the birds. He had to come inside then. A little later that day I was impressed when I saw Bob about 18" off the ground on the side of the tree.
Maybe he really would be ready to be on his own! For the rest of the day and part of Tuesday we kept seeing the family in the wee bit of woods by our house. Late Tuesday afternoon they were all gone. Morgan, Bowen, and I searched the woods and found no scattered feathers so we're assuming the family is fine and Bob and Bobbette are now on their own.