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Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Mistakes I have made.

The mistakes I have made

I have had Blue nearly nine years. During that time, I have made my share of mistakes. I would like to share a few of them with you so maybe , you will not do what I did.

The first mistake I made was when he was just about one year old. I had to move and took him outside in a travel cage to take him to the new pad. I tripped, and accident but I should have been more careful. The cage fell apart.

Blue flew immediately, startled by his new huge flying area, he crashed in the bushes. He then flew as I ran to him up into a tree with 50 Scrubs in it. My heart was pounding. I could not tell who was who. Suddenly they all turned on him, he smelled and talked wrong. With all the commotion, I could see very little, and suddenly, all the birds flew off in an instant -- Blue was gone.

I was devastated but told myself I would stay there until he came back. I looked around and found him hiding near me in a covered garage. When he saw me, he flew into my chest. Home at last. His little heart pounded in my hand. He was happy to be home, and never few away outside again, despite one more cage drop, a year later in yet another move. I have a horrible back, and it gives out at times that are not always good timing.

The next mistake I made was doing the dishes with Blue on my shoulder. A noise startled him and he landed in the soapy water, he was ok, but cold and I had to use a blow dryer on low to fix him up. Had the water been hotter, he would have been seriously injured. Had it been a hot stove or a fan, things would have been much worse.

One whopper mistake was over clipping his wings. It was my first time. I did it because his sight in one eye was getting worse, and he wanted to hang out with me more then he wanted to fly. This part was true, and worked. However, because I did not learn enough on the proper cutting of flight feathers, I over cut his wings. This caused several long-term problems. One, it took away his flight for a year instead of a few months. The ramification was over growth of other feathers, causing him to be itchy and scratch as the new feathers grew. It also changed his personality, he was more nervous with his eyesight now gone in one eye. He is finally over this. Blue can fly again. However, I caused him much stress, and had I simply asked better questions or had someone else do it, this would have never happened.

I am sure I have made many other mistakes, were all-human.

I know the few people who kept birds this year are in one of the best and hardest times of your companion’s life. The bird needs and wants to fly, it is weaning of liquid food, and you are trying to figure out how to work it all. My advice is to let your bird fly as much as you can, at least three hours a day, inside. Never take him outside unless his wings are cut. Make up games to play, pick the quarter out of your hand in flight. Give the bird stuff to shred up that will not hurt him. Give him shinny treats to hide. Make places in his environment to hide nuts and other treasures. I will do a video post on clipping flight feathers soon, its only three feathers, and you do not clip much.

Birds like to be in the highest place in the room. If your birds will not settle down, try giving him a perch far above everything else in the house. They love to sit proudly higher then the rest of us.

Moreover, remember, we all make mistakes, and we can only keep our promise to try our best. If it ends up you cannot provide the type of care you thought you could, its time to think of taking the birds to and agency. I do not say this lightly, but it happens and can be necessary. If things are getting hard, hang in there and experiment, these birds hate being bored. As a child who will plays with a cardboard box for hours, so will a Scrub given the right toys.

This Tree Blue is in is outside, but an inside tree makes a great place for your bird to hang out, just make sure its a safe tree.

I have learned a great deal from al off your emails and comments. Thanks to you all who have contributed your stories.

Tim Rumford

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Let the Scrub Jay games begin!

This video shows Blue playing ball. This has now become his favorite pass time. That was his training and in two days, he has learned to hit each ball in order, and then he gets them back. He also plays with them by himself, which is great when no one is home. He is even learning their colors, which surprised me, you can teach an old Jay a new trick.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pictures needed for study by the University of Nebraska

Stephen Vantassel, Project Coordinator, at Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln School of Natural Resources answered some questions I had about the legality of killing scrub jays when they are damaging crops. I will be posting this information later as I learn more about the specific laws in California. He has requested any photographs of Scrub Jays, in high def, at differing stages of life.

All of you have sent me many great photos, but I am asking those who have Scrubs, or even see them in their backyard to send me photographs in digital format, at the highest quality your camera will take.

This is important to their research in many ways, but most important is finding non-lethal ways of keeping them from destroying certain crops. I ask all of you please try to help. Any pictures in high definition will be greatly appreciated by the University and me. They must be 3 mega pixels or more. Please let me know if I have permission to post these photos here as well. I will respect anyone who does not wish their photography to be posted, but will forward the pictures to the University.

This is a chance for us Scrub Jay lovers to help this species in a larger way then this blog has in the past. Lets get to work!

Friday, June 8, 2007

New features and information - diets and tips for what to do when you find Scrub Jay in need of a rescue

With summer upon us, many people are writing in for advice, all with different birds in different stages – all with different issues. We have helped 80 people with birds. I say we, because I learn from all of you too.

This is our latest rescue sent in from Andrew Knight. He will make a great caretaker and companion for his new friend who would not survive if released where he lives.

All the rescues have been Scrub Jays, accept Nessa. She has an incredible ability to find Scrubs and Crows covered in a mystery oil. She cleans them and saves them along with other birds in need of help.

For those that do not know, they are the in the same species as the Crow.

There is a permanent link on the top right of the blog, a post on what to do if you find a Scrub Jay in need of rescue. I will be adding quick tips there for people who just found a bird. Part of the post talks of making the right decision on keeping the bird or not. Most of the time its better to let them go back to their parents -- however, this is not always possible. Some rescue agencies will not take them. They cannot be kept long and still be released. Although one thing we have learned, there are exceptions to every rule. People have e-mailed who have a partial custody arrangement. The bird comes back at night to feed, sleep, and then back out with its original family during the day. One boy has had a Scrub Jay he rescued that flies free all the time and comes and goes at it pleases, but spends most of its time with him. I know of a Crow that has become very close to an Autistic child. This shows how social and smart these birds truly are.

The first thing when you get bird in trouble is determine if its injured, it may only be stunned and be fine in minutes. Put it in a dim lit box, padded with soft cloth or cotton.

They need to eat as babies every thirty minutes during the day. They sleep all night. The get all water from food until they can eat non-liquefied food.

Emergency diet ( Cant get to store in time)


Dry Cat Food

Hard Boiled Egg Yolk

Mix and liquefy. Feed with a feeder or small spoon if necessary.

A good diet –

Mix and liquefy the following as directed below



Dry Cat Food

Hard Boiled Egg Yolk


Boiled carrots, very soft

Mix the product EXACT with crushed up dry cat food. 70% exact 15% % cat food; add 15% egg yolk, hard-boiled. . Crush the cat food up very fine. Use good cat food, no fancy flavored moist treats -- regular cat food. Add water until it is like watery oatmeal.

You can also add

Crushed up meal worms

Boiled carrots, very soft

As the bird matures, they will start to be able to eat tidbits of all the above ingredients. Start with mealworms or egg yolk as a good natural food when he or she is old enough. They will drink regular water as soon as they are old enough to eat non-liquefied food.

It is very important to keep a very constant and steady diet. It is like feeding a baby; they will let you know when they are hungry. They will stop when they are done. You are more likely to underfeed a baby then over feed it, which in Blue’s case, was not possible.

If you need more info or help with any Scrub Jay feel free to e-mail me, but I appreciate posts so everyone can learn. I am glad that Blue’s life has helped save so many other rescues. Most all have been released. The few that could not, have great responsible companions and caretakers. A few went to wildlife rescue centers. A few died, one in my hand, hit by a car it had a punctured lung. You are the people who care enough to seek out information instead of going it alone. Someone helped me when I found Blue, or he surly would have died. I am also posting some quick emergency tips and diets on the right side soon for quick access.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Today is your Birthday Nessa! A tribute to the queen of the birds – 6-04-07

Today is Nessa’s Birthday. Nessa has been writing me for sometime. I call her the queen of the birds, because she is always saving them. Nessa now defender of distressed birds has rescued and released many, even a few Crows. Out of the hundreds of e-mails received from people wanting or sharing information about a rescued bird, Nessa has been my favorite. One reason, she is very rational and has made all the right choices when deciding to keep or release a bird.

Her first rescue was a small Scrub Jay. It was injured. She could not release it, but also was concerned for its injury. She learned about taking care of such a bird, and what it would entail. She then decided to get it some professional help, despite knowing they may take the bird away from her. Instead, because the bird would not likely ever be able to be released, they must have seen her as a good caretaker. They are allowing her to keep it after it heals up.

During her wait for her new companion, she has saved more birds then I can count, releasing all of them safely. Many covered in oil, a few were Crows. Unable to find the source of the oil, she managed to wash the birds, and release them back to their families once healed. Washing wild oil covered crows, even a baby is no easy task, and she did it many times.

I would like to wish Nessa a very Happy Birthday and thank her for saving so many birds in such a responsible manor. She truly is the queen of the birds to me. In addition, Nessa is a very talented artist who never ceases to surprise me.


Here is Nessa’s young Scrub Jay, which will be returned to her care very soon.

Save Schwan Lake!

Today this post is a little off topic but, I know Blue would approve. I live nearby two lakes that have a plethora of sea and lake birds, from Cormorants to Herons, they come and live in these environments. The lake is beautiful, but so contaminated, signs say not to even touch it. I videoed some of the nesting birds and surrounding struggling sea life. We also are having many dead birds wash ashore from starvation, said to be caused from a lack of the Algae they eat from warmer water temperatures. We also have too much of what they are calling Acid Algae. Its natural, but there is too much of it, it burns off the faces of sea lions. The pup in this video may seem cute, but he is stuck in the hot sun, while his mother is dying in the water.

I have written many state and local ecologists trying to find out the nature of the contamination , and what can be done about this lake.
I am altering this document. I was directing people to contact a county supervisor.
Although Supervisor Jan Beautz is not in charge of the lake, it is a county owned lake and within her district. Putting pressure on her is a good place to start. But I have learned much more sine then.

There is a detailed country document on this and other surrounding lakes. It explains where the contamination is coming from and what steps the county is taking. I do feel that this lake is getting less attention, but until I learn more people should return here, to get a full status on the lake as I learn more.

You can find learn allot by clicking here and reading this in depth report.

I will be adding other people to write your concerns to about this issue as I learn more about the real issues that have caused a lake to be so toxic, I can't touch it. I will write an update post soon.

Much of the contamination if from the birds themselves, mostly geese fecal mater. The rest is runoff and mass sewage spills. I was awe struck by the amount of spills we have had. its all in the report. Something must be able to be done though. The County is using some money to upgrade sewage lines and runoff areas.