Our handyman, Joe, just left after tackling an exhaust vent project on the exterior of our house…and I’m still thinking about him.
Lloyd. I’m thinking about Lloyd.
Who is Lloyd?
Let me set the scene for you:
Late in the summer, it was a pretty typical Sunday night in our Northern New Jersey home.
We had returned from a busy day of family activities that began with church, led into brunch with my in-laws, and then off to Turtle Back Zoo followed by dinner at my parents’ home. It was a warm, lovely day filled with good people and good food.
When we arrived home around 7pm, I tended to our 2-year old, getting him washed up and ready for slumber while my hubs tended to trash duty, as Monday morning is garbage pickup in our town. Just as I was settling in to get some writing accomplished, the hubs approached me in the kitchen with the following statement:
“Lee, I think we have a frog living by our garbage cans. Come take a look.”
“A frog?” I asked, bemused. I was curious.
“Yeah, I think it’s a frog…but I’m not sure because it’s kinda dark outside.”
So together we grabbed a flashlight and made our way out to the side yard, where our three garbage pails are neatly arranged on a grassy area along the street side of our corner house. As I flicked on the flashlight, nothing could prepare me for what I was about to witness, and the profound effect it would have on me from that point forward.
“Mike, that’s not a frog,” I stammered, shakily. “It’s…it’s a baby bird. Like a newborn baby bird that fell out of its nest.”
Of course. The nest.
The nest ensconced within our powder room’s exhaust vent that we’ve been meaning to excavate for the past two years since we’ve moved in to our home. The nest that is a hub of vivacious chirping and activity, with tiny birds flying in and out of it all day long. The nest that is now missing one of its newest inhabitants as of Sunday night.
A million thoughts raced through my mind:
How did this happen?
What are we going to do?
Where is the mommy bird? Do they even know this little guy is here?
The bird was about the size of my index finger, with large, bulging eyes that were sealed shut, an open beak, the tiniest little legs and a body devoid of any feathers or fuzz – I could even see his little heart beating through his chest and hear him struggling for breath. He was a pinkish/purplish hue.
I called to consult with my father, a bird enthusiast. Surely, he would know what to do.
“Whatever you do, do not touch it – its mother will not pick him up if she smells human contact. Just leave him be and see if he’s still there in the morning.” <editors note: I would later learn from bird experts that this isn’t 100% accurate>
Seemed like a reasonable plan.
Monday morning came. Birds chirped away from the nest.
As my husband made his way to work through the garage, he stopped to check in on our featherless, fledgling friend.
“He’s still there. And not looking so good.”
I went out to investigate and what I saw tugged at my heart in a way that was unexpected. In the morning light, the bird seemed to be gasping for air, his heart still practically beating through its barren chest, beak wide open, begging to be fed.
My mothering instinct kicked in and I knew this bird had to be saved, and could not die on my watch, or by my dreadful garbage cans.
So I Googled.
“what to do when a bird falls out of a nest”
Up popped a few articles from Canada, Washington State. They informed me to not feed the bird unless I knew what species it was.
Considering my husband initially thought it was a frog, I wasn’t going to take any chances on guessing the species of this bird.
I course- corrected my search to something more local.
“Bergen County Wildlife Association”
Up popped the Wyckoff Environmental Center.
Also, there was a listing of Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers in New Jersey, however, Bergen County does not appear to have any.
I spoke to someone at Wyckoff – she recommended I make a little nest and try to keep him warm and see if the mama bird comes to get him. I explained to her that my nest making skills are a bit unrefined these days, so she then gave me the more favorable idea to call a vet in my area.
I happen to live around the corner from one, so I called my local vet. The technician I spoke to was quite knowledgeable about birds. She suggested trying to feed it some moistened dog food. I told her I don’t own a dog nor dog food. She then suggested that I call yet another vet — the Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital, who handles wildlife rescues in our area.
The kind vet tech at Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital informed me that they’d be happy to take the little guy in, and get him to the right people who would nurse him back to health – The Raptor Trust. All I’d have to do is transport him up to the hospital, and she explained how.
“Help is on the way, little guy!” I cheered myself on, as I gathered the materials needed to get him up to Franklin Lakes: a shoe box, some paper towel, latex gloves (and a small shovel for picking him up).
I’m happy to report that the tiny bird was transported comfortably (and in style) to the animal hospital in a slim white Steve Madden sandal box with large holes poked through and soft paper towel inside.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was warmly greeted and told to fill out a simple form for The Raptor Trust . They needed the basics: my name, address, where I found the bird, if anyone was bit by it. And then I was asked to give it a name.
Huh. A name. For this suffering little bird.
After a thoughtful pause, I wrote in, “Lloyd.”
“Lloyd – now that’s a great name,” offered the vet tech approvingly. “How did you come up with that?”
I explained to her it’s after the street name of the side of the house on which he was found. It seemed like a good, solid name for this tiny, fighting bird.
I checked in with Lloyd throughout the rest of the day via phone and he was warm, thanks to an incubator, was very cute and very hungry. And then followed up the next day to ensure the fine people at Raptor’s Trust received him.
Thank God, they did.
I am hardly what you would consider an activist of any kind, namely an “animal activist.”
Maybe it’s because I’m a mother now. Maybe it’s because I felt guilty that we somehow enabled this situation by not properly taking care of our exhaust vent. But I think it’s the profound respect for Life that I have – not in political or an activist kind of way – just living, breathing Life. And Hope. And a Chance. That seeing this struggling, nascent creature suffer – or die – was simply not a possibility under my watch.
And so here is how the story ends:
The folks at Raptor’s Trust told me that they rehabilitated Lloyd and then set him free into the wild. I plan to follow up this post with a visit to Raptor Trust, where my son and I can learn more about endangered wild life and the great things this organization does.
As you read in the beginning of this post, our handyman Joe was here and pulled out over 2 feet’s worth of nest from that exhaust pipe and sealed things up so birds cannot access the vent ever again. This is best for the safety of these birds, and the safety of our home. (We timed this work with the hatching schedule of the birds – there were no eggs or birds in the nest during excavation.)
Lastly, if you are ever in the situation where you find an abandoned baby bird in distress, here’s what you can do:
- See if there is a Wildlife Center in your community, county or state that accepts and rehabilitates wild birds of any kind.
- Call your local vet.
- Attempt to make a little nest and carefully place the bird in it (in the hopes that mama bird will come and get it). If you are very knowledgeable about bird species, try to feed it based on the type of food that particular species eats.
- Check out The Raptor Trust for more information and details.
Tell them Lloyd sent you…