Bathawk – The Story of a Successful Bird Rescue

At some point in our lives, most of us have come across a baby bird that has somehow fell from the nest of a loving mama bird. Unfortunately, the common fates of these young ones involve freezing or starving to death under the care of their rescuer.

Thanks to facebook, I came across a rare success story from my friend and fellow trombonist, David Tam. Not only has he kept his rescued baby bird alive for almost two months now, he successfully helped it heal from a splayed leg. I want to share David’s story in hopes that readers of this blog will be able to pull off a successful rescue if they ever encounter a similar situation.

Bathawk at the point of rescue. Photo by David Tam.

David found the baby zebra dove at the base of a rain gutter spout, not moving and covered with ants. With some proper Googling, he learned that the whole human scent thing is a myth and if you quickly return the bird to its nest, the parental fowl will still care for it. Unfortunately, no nearby nests could be found.

The first 24 hrs involved David placing Bathawk (cool name) in a box with some Kleenex tissues giving it water by dripping water on the side of its beak with an eyedropper. He didn’t have a heating pad and so to keep his lil’ buddy warm, he placed the box on top of his DVD player and left it on. Genius move. I don’t think MacGyver could have done any better.

For the next month, David would be feeding Bathawk baby bird formula purchased at his local pet store. The feedings occurred about every 2-3 hours and so he had no choice but to take the bird to work with him. Bathawk had his own desk and a heating pad. Quite a step up from the rain gutter.

Bathawk, a few days after being rescued. Photo by David Tam.

When Bathawk was first found, David noticed it had a splayed leg and he later learned that if not corrected properly, the condition could be permanent. To correct the leg, he shaped the makeshift nest in a fashion where Bathawk’s legs would have to be right at its side.

Now fully feathered and healed, Bathawk spends his days flying around and pecking at seeds around the outside of David’s house. He had hoped that Bathawk would return to the wild, although it always returns to its small Walmart cage.

Bathawk at one month after being rescued. Photo by David Tam.

As far as regrets are concerned, David says that Bathawk would’ve probably been more inclined to go back to the wild if he had tried harder with the advice he got after more Googling. He read that it’s best not to handle an animal too much and do not make eye contact with it if you intend to return it to the wild.

David’s final suggestion to future MacGyver bird rescuers is to make sure you know what you are getting into: “You got to feed them a lot when they are small. They are pretty cheap to care for though. Bird seed is cheap.”


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