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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 3, 2006

Baby birds need your help now

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

BABY BIRD CARE

Free classes on baby bird care and basic first aid for rescued birds:

1-4 p.m. March 26 and April 23

At the Hawaiian Humane Society; registration required. Call Wild Bird Rehab Haven at 447-9274.

www.wildbirdrehabhaven.org

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The wind is whipping, the rain is pouring and little birds are clinging to their nests as best they can to survive.

March marks the start of baby bird season, the time when many wild species in Hawai'i hatch their young.

Be it weather, cats, the pressures of urban life or a malevolent somebody with a pellet gun, many of those tiny birds won't make it through the summer. During baby bird season, the Wild Bird Rehab Haven, a non-profit group of volunteers, takes in around 15 orphaned or injured birds a day.

In the past year, the group realized a dream of creating a drop-off center for folks to bring rescued birds. It's in a little room above Magoo's Pizza on University Avenue.

The birds are cared for by trained volunteers. If they get healthy enough to make it on their own, they are released optimally, somewhere near where they were found. If they can't survive back in the wild, the birds are kept to live out the rest of their natural lives.

After muddling through a couple of baby bird seasons with just its core group of rehabbers, the group is hoping to train others in the community to help in the effort.

If you've never held a scared fragile little bird in your hands, you might not see the value in saving another mynah or dove or waxbill when there are hundreds more out on the lawn. But to hold a lovely bright-eyed thing, a living creature that weighs as much as a few sheets of paper to see that little thing's will to live it becomes quite an all-consuming mission. If you can help that tiny guy live and fly again, something inside you lives and flies.

And somehow, the word gets out in the bird community. Rescue one little bird and suddenly, others seem to come to you for help. It's like they know.

There are basic tips on the Wild Bird Rehab Haven Web site on what to do if you find a bird. The bottom line: If it can't fly, it needs help.

  • If the bird is bleeding, apply light pressure to the wound until bleeding stops.

  • A naked baby bird must be kept on heat. Placing a heating pad under half of the container allows it to move off the heat if it chooses.

  • A sugar-water mixture can then be given; run your finger along its beak so the liquid can slowly seep inside.

    The long-term dream is to have a fully-staffed rehab center. For now, the hope is to train more people to care for injured birds out of their own homes.

    Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.