Wildlife is supposed to stay wild and free. I honestly believe that is true. I respect nature and all creatures, great and small. I believe that birds of the air and creatures on the ground deserve as much right to live as human beings do and that Mother Nature knows what's best for them. That is precisely why I'm conflicted about having saved a young robin that had been blown from his nest two weeks ago. My heart told me it was the right thing - the only humane thing - to do. But my head is now telling me perhaps I should have "allowed nature to take its course", as someone close to me suggested. I researched baby birds and learned what young robins eat and that their diets need to be varied and balanced so they receive vitamins and nutrients necessary for healthy bone growth and muscle development. Little wings need to be able to sustain the robin's weight. I started by giving the robin feedings about every 2-3 hours. The literature said this was crucial. I chopped seed and suet squares to which dead insects had been added. I cut slivers of fruit and opened can after can of cat food - yes, cat food - in order to sustain this baby robin. Cat food provided him with protein until he could eat other things - worms, to be exact.
I even took the baby with me to another state when my spouse and I traveled to be with family for the day, so he wouldn't miss any feedings. It felt like the "old days" when my daughter was a baby and I packed a travel bag for her. While out of town, I learned the rescued baby had been holding out on me. I'd been feeding him (with tweezers) round the clock (no wonder I've felt less than cordial lately) and a family member wanted to give him a worm. I was sure he wouldn't touch it, but then I was shocked when he slurped up that worm as if it was a strand of spaghetti!
That was a turning point in the little robin's life. He now has worms daily. I have to admit I hate worms! I can't bear to touch worms! Yet I've been outside finding worms for my little charge. Never in a million years would I have thought I'd actually be digging for worms in my backyard! I'm sure it's not a pretty sight. But this baby needs his protein and my spouse has dug out all the worms he cares to, and then some. So I stepped up to the plate and took charge of the situation. I did what any surrogate mom of an abandoned baby bird would do - I asked my spouse to stop at the Walmart close to where he works and buy some fishing worms. We now have a small bucket of live worms inside my refrigerator! If my grandson or granddaughter, both aspiring fisher-persons, had asked me to store their worms or other fishing bait, I would have declined as nicely as I could. But....this is for a rescued baby bird and I want to save him. So I'll do what I have to do to help him survive. I have a dear friend who will probably never eat in my home again once she's learned I've stored worms in my fridge. I still shudder at the thought of it myself!
Now....I'm not very comfortable feeding the baby bird his worms. I don't like feeding living things to other living things. After all, didn't I just state that I think all creatures deserve the right to live? Shouldn't that include worms? The only way I can justify allowing the baby bird to consume those worms on my watch, is that I also believe in survival of the fittest and I know the baby bird is higher on the food chain than the worms I feed him. So....he gets his worms, but I don't have to watch him eat them.
From the start, I've been determined to not become emotionally close to this robin, treat him as a pet, or allow him to become dependent upon me. As I typed that, I realized how silly that is. He IS dependent upon me and and I AM emotionally invested in his care and in his life. I'm ever mindful though, that he is a wild bird and needs to be set free as soon as I'm sure he can fend for himself. He's a fledgling, which means he has feathers and can fly a little bit. He sometimes flies up out of his cage and perches on my chest, mouth wide open, gaping for food. My heart loves that he wants to be close to me and that he accepts me as his mother, but my mind knows it's not good for him to be comfortable with humans. He's a wild thing. I'm sure I'll shed some tears when I release him because there is no guarantee he will be able to survive on his own. But in my heart I feel I've done the best I can for him, at least I hope I have. I gave him a second chance, didn't I?