Today was freedom day for the two orphaned eastern phoebes we've (well, Julie and Phoebe) have been raising. It baffles the mind how quickly birds develop from squirming, barely feathered, helpless creatures, into fully flighted and feathered miracles. Avis and Luther (named by our very own Phoebe) have been catching their own flying food inside the picnic tent we erected, so Julie decided it was time for them to be released. We opened the zipper doors and within minutes both birds flitted to freedom.
This did not please our Phoebe at all. She LOVES every nestling or rehab bird we get and she's becoming quite a big help in the care and feeding of them. Julie saw Phoebe's dejected look and tears this afternoon and reminded here "This is why we got Chet Baker, so we'd always have something to love." This did not help Phoebe feel much better, but it made Chet happy.
I am in awe of the effort Julie puts into saving these orphaned and injured birds. She does it out of love for them. But she also gets something out of them--intimate knowledge of the birds she cares for, a peek into the personalities of the individual birds, and she often draws and paints them from life. Very few of the birds that have shared our home over the years have not "made it." And that's a testimony to Julie's skills as a rehabber. She loves it, but it's also an incredible commitment. And this time of year, when the phone rings, it's often someone calling with a sick or injured or orphaned bird. Julie takes all the calls, even though we cannot take all the birds. One she cannot handle or our facilities cannot accommodate, we send along the The Wildlife Center in Columbus.
So farewell, little phoebes. Tonight is your first night out there in the big world. We did our best for you. Please be safe, be aware of possible danger, enjoy our pesticide-free populations of insects, and please, come back and see us! We miss you already.