Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pat and the Sparrows

While I am out walking dogs I see many outdoor birds, mostly Sparrows, Robins, Cardinals and the occasional Pigeon.  Seeing the first Robin of spring is always exciting since, for me, it signals the end of winter. Cardinals are beautiful, brightening up the garden with their bright red feathers, and Pigeons, mostly a city bird, have such an attitude and stubbornness about them they make me smile. But the Sparrows have a special place in my heart thanks to my friend Pat who has shown me how wonderful and unique these birds are.

Pat rescues wild birds, gives them all the love and care they need to be strong and healthy enough to be released back to the wild.  Sparrows have a special place in her heart since, over the years, many of the Sparrows she has taken in have stayed to live with her. Within the last 18 years she has shared her home with Tyler, Xing Xing, Peeps, Trooper, Puddy Duck, Bubbles and Boomer just to name a few.

Pat's rescue began quite accidentally in 1994. A small squeaking noise alerted Pat to what she thought was an injured mouse laying in some leaves in her yard. The "mouse" turned out to be an injured baby Sparrow. Although she had limited knowledge on how to raise a baby bird she took her in, nursed her back to health, and raised her to be a healthy adult she named Tyler. Tyler's injuries never healed well enough to enable her release back into the wild but she lived a long, happy life as an indoor bird. "One of her favorite things to do was fly up on the light fixture and 'sun' herself by the bulbs", Pat recalled, "She loved to have water flicked at her to mimic rain". In the wild, Sparrows have an average life span of approximately 1 year.  Tyler lived to the age of 11.

In the years since, Pat has gained the reputation of a knowledgeable and valued bird rescuer.  As the word spread, friends, relatives and sometimes strangers would come to her with an injured bird seeking her help.  "One time I was even brought an egg", Pat remembered.  Although reluctant to accept this new challenge, after the egg moved when placed on a table (evidence of a life within) she could not walk away.  From the egg hatched a tiny baby bird which Pat raised in a fish tank "the metal bars on a cage can be dangerous for baby birds" and fed him a nutritious mix of re-hydrated dry cat food, egg yolk and calcium supplements.  That bird grew up strong and healthy and was eager to leave the "nest" as soon as possible. Once brought outside, he flew away without ever looking back.

If a bird has a minor injury from misguided flying into window glass or fatigue from strong winds from a summer storm, the stay with Pat will be a day or two to rest and then they are (usually) eager to return to their outdoor home.  This was not the case with Boomer. After a day of strong, hurricane winds, Pat found a little sparrow in distress outside her home.  She took him in and allowed him to rest and recover. When she brought him out to have him rejoin his outdoor home he was reluctant to leave and remained in close vicinity in the yard. "He did not want to leave". Pat explained,  "I would find him hanging on the window screen chirping and peeking in". This went on for some time until one day Pat went to go outside and found the bird by the door. "He walked in and has never left!". Now known as Boomer, he has let it be known that Pat's house is his house. Boomer takes baths in the dog's water bowl and bickers with his bird sister Bubbles for the best perch spot near the window. A little bird with a big personality.

Now when I see a little sparrow I wonder what that bird is like?  Am I looking at a bold and sociable Boomer or a calm and sweet Bubbles? They are no longer just birds, they are individuals with personalities all their own.


  1. Marie, I loved this story, really enjoyed reading it. Thanks again for taking the time to write it.

  2. Hey Marie
    Pat is my Aunt and I loved this story! Thank you so much for writing this!!

  3. Hi Kate! I so enjoyed writing this post. Pat is amazing and has so many wonderful stories to tell about her birds. I am happy to hear you like it!

  4. Oh, my mom's experience goes way further back that the 90s. I don't remember a spring or summer growing up where we didn't have a aves class patients in the house, lol. Thanks to my mom's interest, I feel so much more enriched with the knowledge she taught us about raising these birds and the respect we were brought up to have for other creatures in general of this world. Thank you so much for helping my mom spread this different level of information about birds that so many are often unaware of. I'll leave you with a link from video she took in 1980 that I posted on Youtube. If you skip to 4:42, you'll see everything I'm talking about:

  5. Hi Matt! It was so wonderful speaking to your mom and hearing all the stories about her birds. Now I have a whole new appreciation for all birds, especially Sparrows - a truly enriching experience. I enjoyed seeing the video! Thank you for posting.