This past week flew by! My DH’s promotion ceremony was on Friday. He, along with 3 others, was officially pinned as a Chief Master Sergeant.
The days prior to the big event were filled with shopping for refreshments for the reception, trying to find appropriate clothing for the girls and I and wrapping up a few loose ends from the school year. Friday also happened to be my DH’s 49th birthday! It doesn’t seem possible that the half-century mark is so close. My parents came down and several very good friends also attended in his honor… for the promotion, not his birthday. He hates his birthday and detests formal recognition of the event.
Five days during last week were also dedicated to feeding and caring for a young ward. A2 found two baby Stellar Jays on the ground in our back yard. One was dead but the other seemed to be okay. We spent several hours searching for the nest in vain, all the while holding the little critter to keep him warm and safe. We could see several adult Jays flitting about above in the trees, but even with a ladder we couldn’t find a nest. We fashioned a nest of our own, secured it to a tree branch, put him inside and waited from a distance to see if the parents would come and feed him. They didn’t approach him, but some crows showed up so we retrieved the baby bird. He was virtually naked and his eyes were barely open, so he was a nestling, not a fledgling There was no chance of him surviving on his own.
As evening approached we gave up looking for the nest, brought him inside and looked up feeding instructions on the internet. Jays are omnivorous and some of their favorite foods include seeds, peanuts (when provided by people) and insects. Unfortunately, the babies are fed a regurgitated mix of what the parents consume. None of us were willing to chew up food and spit into his beak, but we mixed some peanut butter with water and fed it to the hungry nestling with an eyedropper. A2 named him, “Castiel” and she made him a nest in a basket, and kept it inside a kennel in her bedroom so the cats and dogs couldn’t get to him. The next morning we tried to find the nest again. In addition to feeding him the peanut butter gruel we dug up some worms, broke them into pieces and fed them to Castiel. The changes and growth during the first 24 hours were amazing!
Not only was he bigger, but he sprouted lots of blue wing feathers. He ate more peanut butter, mashed worms and even some chicken egg yolk the next day. When someone walked into the room they were greeted with an open, hungry mouth. We took him outside in a little basket to see if the parents would reclaim him or if we could watch to see where they were nesting. We watched from inside the house. Two Jays came and watched him from a distance, but they wouldn’t approach him or his basket. I even put a suet cake down to entice them to come closer, but they wouldn’t.
On Friday, Day 4, he started squeaking at us for food too! I didn’t take any pictures on day 4 because we were at the promotion ceremony.
Saturday morning my DH and I went digging for worms, but they were pretty small and very deep in the ground. That, coupled with the fact that the rapidly growing bird was always hungry, meant that I had to search out night crawlers from the fishing bait section of our local store. Holy moly! Those darned things can stretch to be almost 10 inches long before a piece finally breaks off. Castiel seemed to be thriving on the worms and peanut butter. He went through 2 whole night crawlers in one afternoon! We took him outside again, but the adult Jays wouldn’t get any closer than the tops of the cedar trees, so we weren’t sure if they could see him. He grew a second row of wing feathers on Saturday!
This morning when I went in to feed him he was cold and unresponsive. He died within the hour, but we don’t know why. We aren’t sure if he wasn’t getting the proper food or enough food or if maybe he got too cold during the night. A2 placed him in a tea box and dug a hole under the trees where we found him. Two Stellar Jays sat several trees away from us and watched quietly as he was buried. I feel like we let them down.
We’re all so temporary. A quiet day is much-needed. Cheers!