Bird saviour is low-key

  • Jun. 23, 2003 7:00 a.m.

Two abandoned baby birds are getting a new lease on life thanks to Janet Brown of Tlell.
“Woody” (short for Woodward) is a three or four-week-old sapsucker who is just learning how to fly. He looks tiny but he’s huge compared to “Dust Bunny”, a three-week-old pine siskin about the size of a fuzzy golf ball.
Ms Brown has looked after baby sapsuckers before, but this is the first time she has ever taken a pine siskin under her wing. Both were brought to her by islanders who found them out of their nests.
Both babies sleep through the night but need to be fed several times an hour throughout the day. Ms Brown feeds them a mixture of softened high quality cat food mixed with minced hard boiled eggs and the odd bug, if she can find a tasty one (the birds prefer soft bugs to crunchy ones). Because the birds have to be fed so often, Ms Brown brings them with her to work, at the Bill Ellis book store in Queen Charlotte, in cat cases.
There, they compete for her attention with her two tame birds, an African grey parrot named Buster and a peach-faced lovebird named Squeak. Buster, at 10 months old, is just learning how to talk and can already imitate a telephone ring and a microwave beep.
Most of the book store customers, she said, are absolutely fascinated by the bird menagerie and ask plenty of questions.
Once the wild birds are old enough to fend for themselves, Ms Brown will release them in her backyard – something she’s done many times before. The birds are old enough to be released, she said, when they demand to feed themselves and no longer want to fly to her and perch on her shoulder.
“It’s very tough, that’s the only part I have a really hard time with,” she said.