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 womans big-hearted commitment that saved nine baby birds.
A resident in Carol Gordons 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 residents solution?
Hose the messy birds and their mud-constructed nests to the ground.
Gordon retells the hideous scene with obvious exasperation.
One of the nine fledglings Carol Waller feeds. "I
dont want them to be too dependent on me, because Im 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 dont want my windows
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 doesnt let on. During the day, Gordon is obliged to take
them in a box wherever she goeseven to her shop on main streetso that she can
keep up with the constant feeding ritual.
Gordon, herself, doesnt 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 dont want them to be too dependent on me," she said.
"Because Im not their mother."
Gordon said she hopes to soon pass the birds along to some surrogate
swallow parents that live in a friends barn.
"Id like very much to get them back to their own kind,"