Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Garage Boy-- the Young Robin in the Garage Who Won't Go Away, Thompkins Squirrels, and Houston Eyasses

At around 11am this morning, I moved an old chair in the garage and was startled by a baby bird alarm noise and struggled flapping. Thank goodness I hadn't squashed him. An immature Robin with no tail to speak of and a very new set of wings flapped up into the rafters of the garage.

Oh dear, I wonder if his parents know where he is? I hear a Robin call from outside. I go into the front yard and pretend to weed the front flower bed. It has a good view of the driveway. An adult Robin with a worm in his mouth nervously scuttles back and forth in front of the open garage. The adult calls again. My new boarder, Garage Boy calls in response and Dad flies in with the worm and flies out without it.

Yes, his parents do know where he is and the fledgling seems quite happy to stay there. I go back in the house. Perhaps he'll go with Dad the next time he shows up if I'm not around.
11:55am I come back out the garage. I don't see him. Maybe he did leave.

That's new. I guess he hasn't left yet or left only very recently.

I know! I'll open the back door to the garage and maybe he'll go out that way. No deal. Garage Boy settles in to watch the other birds in the back yard. He isn't tempted. It's like fledgling TV, and he zones out on it. I hear a parent out front calling. I go into the house so he can eat.

1:09pm Still here but in a new position on a very large cardboard box. Geez, I don't know, the view into the back yard can't be all that terrific from that corner of the garage.
2:27pm Garage Boy perched on the a chicken crate. Why my parents have a chicken transporter in the top of the garage I've no idea. G.B. is doing the baby Robin freeze. If you point your beak up and don't move, you're invisible. ???
I have errands so I very slowly and carefully creep the car out of the garage, and of course, leave the garage door open. He has to eat after all. Good thing, Milton doesn't have any theft to speak of.
5:33pm I return and my buddy is in a new position but yup, he's still here. And he really isn't
very old, no wonder he's nearly tail-less.
6:17pm Ditto. I have to leave again. Door remains open.
7:30pm I return. It's getting dark. Where is he? Can't see him, so I wrestle the muddy turkey blind tent out of the car--and I mean wrestle, that I've been using as a photography blind. There are adult Robin alarm vocalizations from the front yard. Hmmm, G.B. must still be in here and Dad is distressed by the blind that keeps popping open on his metal tension strips. I'm pretty distressed by it myself by it.
To make a long story short---the garage door is still open. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

An update on the three squirrels, wildlife rehabilitator Carol Vinzant released in Tompkins Square Park. She says she’ll visit them daily for awhile to check on them. And an answer to the reader question about Squirrel houses.

This morning I think I saw Doe. He’s the one with big eyes. I threw some nuts and he went to hide under a bush. Seems about right for Doe. Then, a while later, I saw two juveniles around one of the houses I put up. They were wrestling just like my babies did. The trouble with id’ing them is that there are a few other juveniles in the area. When they were in the cage or in my hands it was easy: doe had big eyes, kung fu chattered, shadow was the girl. Now it ‘s hard.

Last year’s batch was easier to find. They were the only juveniles and they’d come up and jump on me. It’s a different dynamic with this crowd, partly because they’re 2 boys, I think.

Gray, red and fox squirrels have two kinds of houses, dreys and cavities. (There are some ground squirrels out west that live in borrows.) Generally the cavity is the winter house and the drey is the summer house. They might find or expand the cavity that happened naturally or one that was abandoned by a bird.
A drey is a messy looking clump of leaves. They crawl into the middle of it. It looks like a giant, sloppy bird’s nest. Each squirrel, especially a lactating mother, may have several homes at once. If the mother thinks there’s something wrong with her current house—either predators or parasites—she’ll pick up the babies by the neck and move them to another.

They keep their houses pretty clean. Or clean by squirrel standards. They don’t go to the bathroom in the house. They do bring in all kinds of leaves, branches, moss, plastic bags for insulation.

The squirrel houses people put up come in many styles. A rural mailbox is fine. You can have a pine box. I’ve used cedar, though some people think that’s not good for their sense of smell. I’ve remodeled old insulated milk delivery boxes for them.
Generally they like their door/hole near the top. They will mouth around the door to mark it. They will also sometimes chew through the sides---I think they think they’re giving themselves a room addition. What falls apart first is the floor, so I’m trying different ways to drain and reinforce the floor.


I've nothing to report other than what everyone already knows. The first fledgling off the Houston nest, having been seen on the ground, ended up being "rescued" by Animal Control. The eyass is healthy and has now gone to a wildlife rehabilitator.
My concern is that Fledge Two and Three might have the same inadvertent adventure. If I were in New York City, I'd run off some informational flyers and pass them to the local hawkwatchers to pass to neighbors so that unless there is a true emergency no one will call 911 when the normal part of Red-tail young behavior, being on the ground, occurs once again. Perhaps someone currently in town might like to do that.
An eyass should be watched to make sure she doesn't end up in traffic of course, but there is a walled park up the street that might make a dandy training area if the fledglings could get there.
Donegal Browne

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