The termite nest hid the parakeet nest, so no one realized it was there. When Pat’s husband knocked the tree down, all seven nestlings plunged to the ground in a flutter of squawks and shrieks, and the mother bird took off like all the demons of bird-dom were after her. Two of the infants were killed on impact, but Pat rescued the other five and undertook their care.
Pat is now totally pooped. It’s been three weeks of non-stop feeding every two hours. Since this was not the first bunch of abandoned nestlings she has cared for, she knew just what to do and headed straight for Melo, a Panamanian hardware chain that stocks bird supplies. Melo deals mostly in chickens, but their powdered infant bird food was just the thing needed, in combination with a feeding syringe.
So about every two hours, day and night (nights are the worst, she says), she fed her babies. At first, as they learned how to take food from the syringe, it took almost two hours to feed all five. (The very first session took nearly five hours.) But they chomp through their birdie cereal now in about forty-five minutes.
The avian five have feathers now, and personalities. They still eat from the syringe, but they also take some food from a small ice cream spoon. (See video.) The bright-eyed little runt of the litter is now “the best eater,” although he is behind his brothers and sisters in feathering out. If you look carefully at either the photos or the video you’ll see some of the other babies still have breast feathers coming in as well. Only one is fully feathered and just about ready to fly. All of them are truly charming, docile and accustomed to being humans, which Pat regrets. It’s because the hand-feeding requires so much handling that they are so used to human contact now. She plans to release them back into the wild eventually, but hopes they will stay on her finca. Her idea is to encourage them to remain by continuing to offer food after release. What a wonderful thing that would be, to have your own little flock of wild parakeets show up in the mornings and evenings for a bite of fruit with you.