So it is a typical Thursday at the Museum. There is pin drop silence at the main lab in the Ornithology Section. The only thing you hear are the clicking sounds of computer keys and mouse-taps.
Yes. It is your average busy weekday. You hear those random coughs from different corners of the lab and people involuntarily clearing their throats. So you hope that whatever it is, is not contagious.
Normally the main activity on Thursday is taxidermy but today the technicians are away doing field work. So the interns are supposed to enter data into the computers the whole day.
I don’t like data entry. If only there were robots to do this after guys were done with field work. It’s like your mind gets tired for nothing. It is soooo boring. I could go on and on to rumble about data entry. It is never my cup of tea.
But speaking of tea…
I keep looking at my watch because it is almost tea time. The tea here is deliciously delish. It must be the reason why all people are lively during this time. Everyone is chatty during these few minutes. Guys pop out of their offices almost simultaneously .Some bring their ngwashes and tea biscuits; while others prefer plain tea. But either way it is lovely. It is really the highlight of my day. I just have to wait a few more minutes for this partaaaay to begin.
But suddenly,out of the blues, people start mumbling behind me. Then this petit lady that normally sits beside me gets up, moves towards the centre of the lab and starts doing her “aaawwws”.
So I turn and there is this tall, kinda attractive mhindi guy holding a carton.
“Hmm biscuits! Right on time…” I think to myself
Everyone is moving towards him, so I stealthily slide from my chair too. On getting closer I hear tiny lovable chirps. They are nearly inaudible. Curiosity gets the better part of me, so I move closer- only to see the littlest, cutest, boo-boo munchkin, baby bird trying to hide at the corner of the box. (Please pardon my filthy language).
From the size and plumage, you can tell that it is a young bird just about to fledge.
So the ornithologists here put the Mhindi on the hot seat. They do not seem happy. They are not angry people; they just REALLY care about birds. Say, if you were hanging by a thin thread on a cliff and a bird was chocked by a rice grain on top of that cliff … you would have to wait kidogo. They go on to ask why he decided to carry it away from the nest’s location.(I will explain why it is not advisable)..
So this Mhindi guy says that he is a surgeon and is flying out of the country for serious ‘surgeon business’. That kinda momentarily suspends the interview and now we want to listen to what the good doctor is saying. I mean, you know… guys, it’s a surgeon!
He explains that he found the poor bird on the road side. The bird’s nest must have fallen from the tree and broken; therefore rendering the poor, scared, baby bird homeless. He looked around and could not hear the parents calling or even spot them. He realized that the bird was in danger of being attacked by domestic cats.
When he took it in, it was pretty weak – probably with a little physical injury and shock- but he kept it warm and gave it plenty of clean drinking water. Every day, he crushed some yellow rice finely and fed it to the bird.
So after taking his contact details (accessioning), the bird is left in the safe hands of the ornithologists here.
To cut the long story short, the bird was well taken care of by Mr.Titus Imboma(in the picture). It got well and was later released to the wild.
This was my first encounter with an abandoned bird.
I have personally helped one adult back to its feet again…rather… technically it is back to its wings and feet again. I felt like wonder_woman. I mean, it was exhilarating! Is this how doctors feel every day?
It was an adult Bronze Sunbird that had been hit by a stone thrown from a mischievous boy’s slingshot. Of course I pinched him on his forehead and threatened to take him to PRISON if I saw that again (Literally the dumb ‘sheet’ we do for love). The bird was drowsy and was experiencing chills (Probably because it was July). But I gently wrapped it in a warm fluffy cloth, gave it a sugar solution and most importantly, sent all our cats outside! Watching it gain back its strength and fly back to its nest gave me the zeal to live a more purposeful life.
Phew! Do you believe that last part though? Because it doesn’t hit the ear right- I honestly think the experience made me more of a braggart than a hero.
Moving on though, these are just a few examples. Different birds need different care. You may come physically close to a baby sunbird and be comfortable but a baby kite will unapologetically gorge your eye out.
The most important thing is to first assess the situation- preferably from a distance to avoid making it worse, for example, You might pity a young bird and try to save it but later realize that the mother was trying to teach it how to fly. By the time you send it back, the mother will have moved on. So like; what then? Will you teach it how to fly?
So therefore, after assessing the situation, gently check whether there is bleeding or whether it is in pain.
If you can identify the bird, see how you can feed it or help it before it is rescued by a professional. For example I used sugar solution because sunbirds feed on nectar. It was a temporary substitute.
It is good to help poor injured animals. It works spectacularly when you want to ‘bribe’ God for that colossal favor. You know those prayers that start with,
“God, if this test comes back negative (or positive); I will start going to church again.” Then you stall in your prayers, trying scoop up anything good you have ever done and then voila…
“You know, I could have left that poor bird to die…”
Nonetheless it is important that we don’t put our hopes up. Sometimes the bird might be really injured and there is no way to save it. There might be circumstances where you are not able to reach a veterinary, a wildlife rehabilitation centre, a rescue centre, a wildlife conservation group or anyone that gives a crap. Do not blame yourself.
If you are a bird fanatic with the hope that you will be able to be a hero someday; keep close links to Bird Conservation groups from whatever county or state you are in. Join their Facebook, follow their twitter accounts and ask to join their WhatsApp groups. In case you encounter this, you can call for assistance and I have seen this guys swiftly get into action when called, especially for Nature Kenya and the ornithology section of the National Museums of Kenya. The Birdlife International guys also answer when you tweet or email them. The Kenya Bird Map Team is the best too. There is a big community of bird enthusiasts in their Facebook group. For birds of prey, there is a trust known as Kenya Birds of Prey Trust in Naivasha.
I know that I have left out a lot. So I am hoping that we could help each other out. If you have any knowledge on how to handle injured birds let us share so that we can conserve our wildlife. Also am sure that there are organizations that help birds in Kenya. Let us know.
This is my final question? Have you ever had an encounter with an injured or abandoned bird? What was its ID; rather what were the characteristics of the bird? How did you handle the situation? Let’s share.