Tag Archives: chick

Real snow, and one lucky keet

Last evening was windy, and the guineas were twitchy, and several of them escaped.  They flew up into the mesh and scrambled against it to find a gap and then got out.  I was watching them, and I didn’t think they could get out, right up until they did.  Then it was a long round of persuading them back into the area of the opening in the fence (they wanted to go back in), until they darted back in one by one.

The only keet is now at that stage where they think they’re all grown up and are paling around with the big birds, but they are still little.  So the keet was out with the other escapees, but instead of staying with them, it ran straight into the big brush pile, waited for the coast to clear (of us), and then peeped a little, calling out for the others, and then sprinted back out to rejoin them.

After a long patient wait, finally all the birds were back enclosed.  Until an hour later, just before dark, when I went in the yard to close the greenhouse door, disturbed them, and three guineas escaped again!  And the keet.  Good grief.

This time I propped the fence open, waited until I saw the keet make its run out of the brush pile to reunite with the others, and they were all milling around by the open gate.  I left them to it, confident they were fine.

After dark  I closed all the coops, and all the guineas were back in the greenhouse.  No keet.  You’re kidding me.  I rarely do see the keet at night, it tucks itself away somewhere, so I told myself it may be in there but it’s hiding.  Worst case scenario  it didn’t find its way back in, it’s in the brush pile, but it will most likely be able to survive the night, since it’s got a full suit of feathers now.

The night started with hard blowing snow pellets and froze, with our first lasting accumulation of snow.

This morning I open up and feed the hens (the guineas are always already up and about), and there’s no keet.  I look around the edges of the brush pile but see nothing.  I hear nothing.

I’m sick about it.

I carry on taking care of the chickens, back and forth, and then I see what I’ve been hoping to – little bird prints walking out of the brush pile.  I almost miss the little brown bird huddled, still, in one of my footprints.

It was on its way, struggling back to the greenhouse, but it did survive the night!

I shoved it in my shirt, hastened back to the house and transferred the patient to under HW’s shirt, and went back to work.

I came back in to find the chick bedded in a bowl, clearly labeled:)

They have eyelashes!

Sleepy and not out of the woods, but will likely be fine.I put a towel over her later in case she got ideas about hopping out. And HW uncovered her later to peek.  A transformation!  Up pops the head.  Yes, I am feeling better. Oh, maybe I still am a little sleepy.

Poopstruck

In the morning you always have to check on the chicks.  They can get in trouble, get stuck in the coop, whathaveyou. They’re creative.

This morning one guinea chick was gone, no body, no ideas:(  Now the last keet has no little friends to grow up with.  And the white Silkie chick was MIA too.  I went hunting in the small coop, yep, she was in there, in the corner, and I poked her, and she came scampering out.

Covered in shit.

Her mom just looked at her as she ran by.  I don’t know how hens can be so expressive.  They’re masters of body language.  Like, what have you done NOW? and/or That’s gonna get all over my feathers when I have to sit on you!

This chick took a direct hit between the shoulders.  A big, wet poop.  I can’t say I’ve ever had to deal with this before.

It was time for a washing.

I thought I could get some water and a washcloth and wipe her down, but now, it was beyond wiping.  It was all under her wings, down her back, dripping down sides.  Pretty much only her head was clean.  She got a thorough bathing, and because their feathers are yellow when wet, I wasn’t sure she was really clean.

As wet as the day she hatched.

She enjoyed the bathing, by the way, nice, warm water.  So then I thought I’ll let her run back to mom and mom will sit on her until she’s dry and warm again, right?

Run back to mama!

So she runs, shivering, and then mama is reluctant to settle on her.  The little chick is huddling, and standing on tiptoes, trying to push herself up into her fluff, crying, but she wasn’t getting the warming she needed.

Hey, I’m cold! You see what that lady did to me?

Plan B then. I grabbed her up, stuck her in a pocket (it’s so automatic now.  I can stick a chick, or several, in a pouch or pocket, or down my shirt, and they instantly go quiet – dark and warm?  No further questions).  It’s when they have a head out and can see what’s happening they cheep like the sky is falling.

I brought her back to the house, wrapped her in a washcloth, and stuck her under the covers with HW (Huh? What?  I hear a chick…).  He didn’t object to the excuse to stay in bed.

There was some mild, curious cheeping for a bit:  I say, this seems irregular.  Not that I’m complaining, mind you!

Then the  chick conked out for a long nap.  Very long.  Very quiet.

I peeked.

Oh, I’m awake. I’m just not going to say anything to ruin this.

Eventually she wiggled out of the washcloth and went for an exploratory crawl with her little talons (Hey!  Ouch!).  She came out fluffy as anything, and passed the sniff test, so I returned her to mom in the greenhouse, who also smelled her!

HW (skeptical):  How do you know that she smelled her?

Me:  Oh I know a smelling when I see one.  She leaned over, beak an inch away, and then was satisfied and resumed her business.  It was a sniffing.

Never a dull moment.

Guinea sleepover II

The next night was rainy and a bit bleak.  In the morning when I released the sleepover chick, I hadn´t marked it, although we´d talked about banding it, to know which one was “our friend”.

HW did some out loud wondering whether we´d have another visitation.  Jokes about discovering the good life in the house aside,  maybe this little bird had an injury.  A sprain?  Perhaps it was having a hard time and the falling in the tank was a symptom, not cause.

In the evening, he closed the coops again and returned without remark.  He climbed to the loft, where I was, then halted meaningfully at the top of the ladder until I looked up.

No way!  There he was, holding a guinea chick to his chest, chick looking at me with neck stuck out, orange legs dangling.

The bird’s total comfort with the proceedings was the first clue this was the same bird.  And now I will be wrapped in a towel and snuggled.  Yes, please!

Wow!  Night two!  This time it had not gone for a swim and was only wet from the day´s rain, but it had been struggling to get up on the coop, and allowed HW to catch it (I don´t think it tried to get away very hard).

Same procedure:  Wrapped in towel, hugged, pet on the head (same bumps on the head confirmed definitely same bird), encouraged to go to sleep.  The chick was a little bit less tired tonight, keeping eyes open longer, but even more relaxed.  Totally silent.  Lounging.Like the previous night, I fell asleep with it and it woke me later by hopping up, then resisting my hey go back to sleep hand over top of it, and I put it back in the night box.

Now HW´s jokes about having a house guinea seemed a bit more real.  Hmmm.

 

Guinea sleepover!

HW called me to the door with urgency, just while he was doing the coop closing round.

He was holding an exhausted, soaking wet guinea chick!

I´d been worried about that stock tank, sitting practically under the guinea coop, especially when the chicks were first emerging.  Then when they were older they managed to start roosting on the coop together without my supervision, or incident, and it´s been weeks since they were hopping up on the coop, using the rim of the stock tank as a jump off point.  I figured we were well past the risk of someone falling in.

But no. He´d found this baby swimming, exhausted and nearly dead.

I snatched it up in a towel, wrapping it up with just a beak sticking out, and held it to my belly.  It was shivering hard.  I rocked with it in the rocking chair for awhile before remembering it´s mammals that rock, not birds, and then I took it upstairs, as we were headed there, to bed.

It took about an hour to stop shivering, and a couple of re-wraps with a dry part of the towel. 

After it was out of the woods, then it was all fun. It would poke its head out of the towel and then suck it back in, like a turtle.

It was a dream come true, being able to hold and snuggle a little chick!!

I put the swaddled bird in HW´s lap ´”for a minute” to go out and make a last check that there was no one else in trouble outside.  The guineas were really shrieking up a storm.  HW: “Where’s Roberta!”

When I got back, he wouldn’t give it back!  He called me a chick hog and told me to get my own chick.  “Me and Roberta are hanging out.”  Whenever he leaned or reached for something suddenly, the chick would protest with a little trill.  He kept it in his lap until he needed to get up for something, and I got it back! 

Eventually it started to pant, and I loosened the towel, more and more.  It was totally unwrapped at the end, but very, very relaxed.  It was clearly perfectly happy to be where it was.  No designs on escape.  It was very tired, dozing off, sticking its neck out, and then, Awwww!  resting its head on my arm and going to sleep!   Adorable!  I pet its bumpy little head and skinny neck, hugged it.  It was into it. Looking at us.  Making little sounds if someone moved too quick.

HW said “you´ve got a little dinosaur over there” and said it´s not going to want to go outside again, now that it´s experienced the good life.  “You´re going to have a little house guinea!”

I was very tired myself, and I fell asleep with my arm around it.  HW thought I would roll on it and I should put it in the box, but I didn´t.  How often am I going to get to cuddle a little wild chick?  I´m going to get every minute I can.

Sometime in the night, it got restless, and woke me by standing up, hopping on my arm.  So I put it in the box then and it was silent until morning.

I carried it back out, head whizzing around trying to figure out where it was, then getting excited as we neared the group, and voila – back in the flock!

 

Nuthatchling

I was yanking out St. John’s Wort along our woods path, and I saw a little flutter.  There was an itty bitty bird, hopping along in the duff.

Because it allowed me to, I reached out and picked it up.  I thought at first it was a chickadee, but the way it grabbed on my hand indicated a woodpecker.

Then I noticed the tip of its beak was all gummed up, and I picked and pulled at that.  I think it was sap, full of dirt. Very sticky.  As soon as I got most of it off, and it could open its beak, it squawked!

I carried it home for a photo shoot and to show HW.  It seemed pretty content.  Chicks tend to like being held, after initially being disgruntled.  Oh, I’m warm.  This isn’t so bad.

Then I took it back to where I’d found it.  I tried to put it on a tree, quite sure it was a creeper, but it fluttered back down to the ground.  I retired and watched.

It started cheeping.  Peep, peep peep.  Peep, peep peep.

Sure enough, a nuthatch appeared in the overstory.  Of course, nuthatch!  It flew off in the wrong direction, but I was quite sure it had been looking for the source of peeping first, so it was probably off for a grub to return with.

Later on, the baby was gone so I’m sure it was fine.  Possibly its beak was shut with the sap, though, so that it couldn’t make noise.  I like to think I helped it.

It’s a fallacy that parent birds reject chicks if you touch them.  The best thing to do for a fallen chick is to replace it in the nest or the branches of a tree and wait for the parents to return.

Peep peep!

Three new blondies!  This Silkie hen hatched out three of three “cuckoo eggs” – full sized Ameracauna eggs. 

These three, unlike the last two (Oreos), while also Ameracunas, happen to be blondes!

That´s time-for-a-nap behavior.  Burrowing in.

Gone to bed.

This hen also molted before going broody, but didn’t regrow during her confinement.

I haven´t had little yellow chicks for a long long time!

Miracle chick

IMGP4853Throughout this post I refer to the chick as a “he”, mostly.  However, these chicks’ gender is still unknown.

My friends’ hen hid in the goat barn and hatched herself a little brood this early spring.  The two survivors were the cutest things, skittish little white puffs tightly attached to mom, learning to scratch, and changing every day – growing new feathers and  little tails overnight.

Then one morning they spotted what looked like a plastic bag hanging in an odd place in the paddock.  Through the binoculars it was definitely one of the chicks, hanging upside down, apparently dead. While P was looking at it though, the chick turned its head and looked at him looking.  “It’s alive!”

He ran outside to retrieve the little bird and had to cut it free from where it had got its foot tangled and been suspended.  I first saw it in his hand, wrapped in a towel.  It looked awful.  One leg was stretched out straight and unnaturally.  Motionless, fully extended and obviously useless, it was generally assumed broken.  Prepared to tape it up with electrical tape, I palpated the little bird bones all the way from heel to hip but didn’t find any obvious breaks.  The bird reacted minimally, although it was dozing off because he was being held with his head low.  His leg looked awful, though, hanging useless from his “hip”, so I figured at the least his tendons were all torn.

Would the bird survive?  He was put in a box, ate a bit of food and promptly pooped, which was hopeful, but he couldn’t drag himself around at all, and the lifeless leg stayed stretched out behind him at a pathetic, painful angle.

These pictures are from two days after re-releaseI consulted Google, found this, and crushed up an aspirin to feed him on a bit of juicy mango peel, prompting H.W. to dub me Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.

(Do not feed poultry ibuprofen! Or the whole aspirin! See the link)

Mostly the chick sat still and quiet with his good foot under him and and the other sticking out horribly; sometimes he sent up a loud wave of lonely peeps.

Later in the day after the aspirin, I grabbed the chick, who flapped and dragged himself through his water dish in a pathetic attempt to escape, to inspect his/her leg again.  This time I bent the leg gently through the whole natural range of motion a couple of times and was satisfied it wasn’t broken, although it was clearly badly damaged.  He couldn’t grab my finger with his foot the way he did with the other foot, and it was stiff and lifeless.

Still later that night, I checked on him again randomly, and he was sitting with both feet drawn up under his body!

More surprisingly, the next morning, when I lifted the lid off his box, he promptly flew up to the edge of the box in an escape attempt.  I inspected his/her leg again and this time he could grip a little with it.  He hopped around his box a bit, too, when encouraged, but with an awful limp.  It still looked broken, even, wobbling and dragging behind him.

But by that afternoon, he/she was standing on both legs, like normal, and clearly very lonely.  It seemed a miraculous recovery.

I thought I would reintroduce him to his mom just before bedtime so he could still have more rest but be with her before he got emotionally stunted.  I misjudged when she was retiring, though, and put him back out with almost an hour of active foraging left.

It was adorable!  I put him down and he ran to her as fast as he could, but it was down a slope so that at the end he wiped out and slid into her legs like he was sliding into base.  She just looked at him, and that was all.  All three of them resumed waddling and pecking like nothing had happened.  I was worried he hadn’t had enough rest and his limp would get worse with the sudden return to exercise, but he was managing fine, keeping up.The chicks are ranging boldly farther from their mother these days

By the middle of the next day, the two chicks were indistinguishable again.  From how awful he looked initially, it was a miracle recovery.

Our best guesses are that he may have been hung upside down for a long time, even overnight, and that his leg emptied of blood.  Perhaps his vessels collapsed or even had nerve damage with a v

ery extreme case of having one’s foot fall asleep, so it took a long time to get back circulation and reennervate.  Perhaps he had strained or over stretched muscles or tendons that bounced back with the rest.

At any rate, a chick that seemed a hopeless writeoff returned to being a normal chick in 48 hours, and although his leg looked broken, it wasn’t at all.  I’ll be more inclined now to care for and nurture damaged animals in case they are able to recover.  It might not be as bad as it looks.

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