Greetings! I am in Jericho and am new to this listserve. I want to thank those
of you who have mentioned the Pine Grosbeaks at the Essex Way PO!
On Friday, November 30th, a flock of about 20 Pine Grosbeaks was in an
ornamental cherry tree out back of our house. It was a confirmed sighting, as
two of us saw them. We had seen them several times in the week or two
before. However, on this day the flock was spooked by a sharp-shinned hawk,
and one of them hit our upstairs window while fleeing.
Somehow the hawk missed this fact, and she lay under our lilac bush for about
2 1/2 hours. I watched her and thought she wasn't going to make it, as she
nearly keeled over twice. I didn't want her last moments to be the stress of
fear, so I hung back. But then she started to perk up a little. The wind was
also picking up and the sun was hanging low. So I set a box over her with one
end open, just to shield her from the wind. About a half hour later, with the
day's light dimming, she hopped out of the box! However, she could not fly.
Instead she hopped all the way across our yard, heading for the pine trees
there. After a quick consult with my wildlife biologist son, I gently fetched her
and set her into a box. She did not fight or seem afraid at all; in fact, she
clung to my glove, which was warm.
I have no doubt whatsoever that had I not intervened she would have died
soon afterward by predator, exposure (it got quite cold and windy), and/or
I called VINS who had me call a Rehab-er, who had me call another Rehab-er,
who had me call a third Rehab-er, who encouraged me to keep her overnight,
saying that most birds will recover and fly within 24 hours. So we gave her
the recommended sunflower seeds along with some chickadee mix and some
cardinal mix, some of the cherries off the tree out back, and, of course, a
shallow dish of water. She especially liked the safflower seeds.
I was also told that a perch is very important. So I set a laundry basket over
her box, and secured a long twig through the slats as a perch. She
immediately got up onto it. She was so peaceful, and ate and drank fine. I
put her box atop a desk under the window in our guest room, and closed it off
so that it would be cool in there (about 54 degrees, but more like 45 with the
window open days)...so that she could remain acclimated, though not
Well, she did not fly the next day. I was urged by the Rehab-er and my son to
keep her a few days because a snowstorm was coming through. So I went to
the hardware store and bought two cheap, rectangular, white laundry baskets,
and set them one atop the other with the open tops together, using masking
tape to make a solid hinge down one end. Then I secured four perches at
graduated heights. She really liked being able to hop up and look out the
window (through a thin curtain) and hop back down to eat and drink. I also
set her water dish atop three small, flat stones to make it easier for her.
I got up about a half hour after sunrise each day and changed the newspaper,
towel, food and water in her space, and the water again later in the day. On
Wednesday, December 5th I tried again to release her, but she only flew a few
feet twice, then could only hop around. So my son walked me through using
the bander's hold and checking her wings, and I found a rough spot about 1/2
to 2/3 of the way down her right wing. He said that because she flew that
little bit it probably meant she had only a hairline fracture, but it could also
mean a slight reinjury. So he told me that the proper thing was to keep her in
for 2 more weeks to allow complete healing.
I felt so bad for her! But I did it. Upon advice, I also brought her some grit
(tiny rounded stones about the size of seeds) to aid her digestion. (With all
the snow I had to search for them out at the mailbox!)
After about another week I was surprised to be woken suddenly one morning
by a loud call. Rather than her usual soft sounds, Ms. Pine Grosbeak was
calling loudly! I asked my son about it, and he said that's her Contact Call (as
in: "E.T. Phone Home!) ~ she was calling her peeps, her flock! We hadn't seen
them at all the first week, but they were out in the cherry tree twice the
second week. I wanted to release her sooner, but yielded to expert advice.
She was probably ready when I noted her attempting to fly inside her space!
But we waited through that big storm last weekend, then waited a few more
days for the temps to moderate.
On Wednesday morning I fed her well and, after she had tanked up nicely, I
took her basket-space out onto the back porch. As I opened it she flew right
out and up onto the rafters!! Hurrah!! She hung around for about an hour,
eating snow and trying to figure out that she needed to fly down slightly to
get out the open door (it's a screened porch). At one point I held up a twig
from the cherry tree, hoping to inspire her toward the door, but she turned
around and chomped on the cherries!
Finally, she just did it...flew through the doorway as clean as could be and
landed in the very lilac bush she had lain wounded beneath 2 weeks and 5
days before! Next she flew up into a decidous tree nearby ~ and defended
the tree when a pair of tufted titmice made an appearance. After that she
was off to the very top of the tall maples along the road. All the while she
was offering her Contact Call. She flew in strong, undulating arcs up the road
aways, then back down it, this time even faster! I was incredibly impressed
and moved. For me it was as a "Christmas Moment" ~ given the juxtaposition
of great vulnerablility and great power.
I hope she found her peeps! With all the local sightings, my son says it is
highly probable that she will rejoin a flock. She certainly left here well fed and
well rested, so her chances are excellent. All good.
I am grateful for this Listserve!
By the way, we also have the usual locals: chickadees, bluejays, titmice,
white and red breasted nuthatches, harry and downy woodpeckers, a number
of cardinals, lots of juncoes, some goldfinches, four deer and a rabbit, as well
as that darned sharpy on occasion.