Timber!


I came home from work on Friday and was unpacking the shopping whilst speaking to my Mum on the phone when I glance out the window.

In our garden a really large tree had fallen over! I told my Mum I would have to go as I knew there was a nest in that tree, a Crested Barbet’s nest.

Crested Barbets burrow a hole into the tree trunk like a woodpecker.

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Crested Barbet pic courtesy of Google

We knew the tree would eventually fall over as termites and ants had destroyed the roots and the tree was dead.

The tree had fallen at an angle, missing our house, boundary wall and our neighbour’s wall – nothing short of a miracle!

I got to the tree and our Staffie cross was going bananas trying to get into the birds nest.

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I peek a look into the hole and expect the worse. It’s a huge tree and the nest is more than half way up it.

To my surprise, I see the back of a pink baby and it’s breathing! I put my hand in the hole, but my hand is too big.

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I have to get them out. If I use an axe I could hurt them, so I fetch a saw.

So I sawed that hole till it was big enough to put my chunky hand in to retrieve it.

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I put my hand in and was struck by the warmth of the hole. There was no nesting material, only sawdust from my intrusion.

Ungracefully I gently pulled out the baby bird, but there wasn’t only one, there were 3. Blind, featherless and pink! They were as quiet as mice, subconsciously knowing their survival depended on it.

I put them in a shoe box with a soft towel and called my vet. I know the receptionist very well and she gave me the number of a wildlife rehabilitation centre – Free Me. One of their agents was in my area and so I called her – at 6pm on a Friday night!

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I got hold of her quickly. Her name was Peggy and she was cheerful. She was so close to me that I could drop them off immediately.

I followed her directions and arrived outside her house 10 minutes later. She was waiting for me and we transferred the precious cargo into her carrier. Peggy said they were very young and took them inside to put them on a hot water bottle.

Her colleague, Murray, and I chatted for a while and then I left, feeling much better about their chances now that they were in Peggy’s hands.

On Monday morning I got a call from Peggy. She asked if I would be interested in putting up a breeding box with the babies inside to see if the parents would come back and continue to care for them.

I thought it was a great idea and met Peggy and Murray at the house that afternoon.

We erected the box in a nearby tree. I was so surprised by how much they had grown in 3 days as they were already sporting feathers. They were also really noisy and were chirping like only baby birds can chirp.

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My eldest holding one of the babies

We left the box in the tree overnight. I heard the parents in the garden and in the surrounding area but they did not come to the box.

In the morning the babies were dead quiet. Murray arrived to check up on them and when he heard that nothing had happened he took down the box with the babies. They were alive but cold. He took them back to Peggy’s for their breakfast.

Peggy sent me a message a few days later to tell me they are thriving and sent me this pic:

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I really admire and appreciate the work that Free Me does and their staff are selfless, kind and caring. Have a look at their website and see all the amazing things that they do: http://www.freeme.org.za/

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This blog is dedicated to my friend and fellow blogger Grant – as promised!

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3 responses to “Timber!

  1. Pingback: Timber: Update | The Dragon Lady·

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