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For the week of July 26 through August 1, 2000

Birds in the bush worth nine in hand


By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer

This is a story about man versus nature, the terrible struggle that ensued and one woman’s big-hearted commitment that saved nine baby birds.

A resident in Carol Gordon’s Ketchum neighborhood had a swallow problem. They lived under the eaves, just above the windows, and on their flights in and out, well, they did what all birds do.

The view from inside the house was soon unacceptably marred.

The resident’s solution?

Hose the messy birds and their mud-constructed nests to the ground.

Gordon retells the hideous scene with obvious exasperation.

Bird in the hand...One of the nine fledglings Carol Waller feeds. "I don’t want them to be too dependent on me, because I’m not their mother," she said. Express photo by Willy Cook

 

A powerful blast of water ripped the delicate nests from their moorings sending newly hatched swallows and their parents reeling. Baby birds hung drenched and helpless from branches, some dead, others barely holding on.

"This was a deliberate ploy to murder," Gordon said.

When Gordon inadvertently arrived at the carnage, she asked the resident to stop, she recalls, but the resident said, "I don’t want my windows dirty."

That was two weeks ago. Now, life is vastly different for the fledglings.

Gordon, 50, managed to save all but two of the 11 birds she collected that day. Knowing nothing about the care and feeding of birds, she quickly learned through trial, error and seat-of-the-pants research.

And if the day-in-and-day-out, on-the-hour feeding of the flock is more than she bargained for, she doesn’t let on. During the day, Gordon is obliged to take them in a box wherever she goes—even to her shop on main street—so that she can keep up with the constant feeding ritual.

Gordon, herself, doesn’t have a beak, so she uses a chop stick to insert tiny gobs of extra-lean raw hamburger, hard-boiled egg and baby cereal into the eagerly hungry little mouths.

A few have even taken to sitting on her finger.

Even though she says all of this gives her a "motherly" sense of satisfaction, she is a little worried about what a veterinarian friend recently told her: because swallows bond for life, they may never fly away.

"I don’t want them to be too dependent on me," she said. "Because I’m not their mother."

Gordon said she hopes to soon pass the birds along to some surrogate swallow parents that live in a friend’s barn.

"I’d like very much to get them back to their own kind," she said.

 

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