| Okay, my starling (which I've decided it really is, after finding
| some more pictures of juveniles in bird books) is happy and
| healthy and now knows how to fly. How do I get it ready to go out
| on its own? It seems very slow about even picking up the
| concept of eating by itself. I've been feeding it solid food
| for two days, but saucers of catfood, fruit, and chicken are being
| ignored and I still have to feed it by hand, a tricky
| proposition with a bird that can fly. I at first thought this
| was just it being spoiled, but even after being left alone for
| five hours, it didn't seem to touch the food, just greeted
| me clamorously when I came back.
| I've got him in his cage out on the back porch to get
| acclimated to the temperatures, and he certainly doesn't need
| help flying (it was fascinating to watch him start flying;
| clearly, some sort of genetic switch just flipped, because
| after two days with enough feathers to make a short hop,
| he went from a failed attempt to even flutter out of his
| box to zooming around the screen porch in a mere two hours.)
| Laura, Goofy's foster mom
| PS: Thanks to all the people who wrote me with advice!
Relating to teaching to eat, basically you want to emulate the bird's
natural diet as much as possible (sorry, not sure on starlings, except that
based on what I observe, it's just about anything!). Probably mealworms are
a good "natural" food, and can be obtained at bait stores. You'll probably
have to feed a few by hand (needle-nosed pliers work pretty well for us,
and even look a little like a beak), then just put some in a dish with side
to high for them to crawl out of. If possible, keep an eye on the weight of
the bird to make sure it doesn't starve. When it's gotten the hang of worms
(they're really beetle larvae), you might supliment with (ugh!) crickets,
also from bait shops. Again, let the bird know these are food by hand-feeding
some, then leave some in a tall-sided slick dish (we use one of those
plastic microwave brownie dishes). Eventually, he'll catch on.
Then comes the REAL problem! Trying to get him to be wary of people,
even though you've been momma for so long! You generally have to ignore the
bird, dump in food and water, don't make eye contact, and wait until it
stops "gaping" at you (you know, that open-mouthed-wings-slightly-out-with-
a-little-cry-that-tears-your-heart move!) Then and only then will it be safe
in our cruel world!
We've done one blue jay last year, and are working with another. It's a
load of work, and it's always sad to see them go, but rewarding as heck!
Plus, they will usually come back to visit for a few weeks, since they
remember a good source of food!
Best of luck!
Bill & Celia