Friday, July 6, 2012

The tiniest Kestrel--an update

Last week the Humans admitted their youngest bird yet for the year--a tiny baby American Kestrel approximately one week old.  He was found after some Humans moved some machinery, revealing the little ball of fluff with oversized feet.  There were no other birds (parents or siblings) around, so the Humans brought the chick to the RMRP to raise him. 
6/27/12 - 29 grams
I know the baby and I aren't even the same species, and that in the wild I'd be happy to have him as a midnight snack (I'm too well-fed for that kind of stuff, now), but I have to say: he is so flippin' cute. 

The baby came in weighing a mere 29 grams, and has steadily been putting on weight. A few days ago he weighed 66 grams! In recent days he been putting on 11 grams a day! Us birds don't waste any time growing up.  

When he first arrived he wasn't old enough to eat on his own, but already he's figured out how to eat on his own from a small pile of chopped mouse placed in front of him.  He'd fed only mouse because a single mouse provides all the nutrition a growing bird needs.  While older birds can have a diet supplemented with rabbit and chicken and prairie dog and goose, babies really do need mice.  For instance, I'm fed one mouse with my meal twice a week, and the rest of the week I get other food.  Why is that?  Because mice are expensive, and those other foods are either cheaper or free (thanks to generous donors). I'll explain how they're expensive:  

In order to put on that much weight every day, the baby is eating 1 oz of mouse each day.  As he gets older and starts growing in feathers, he'll require even more food to make up for that energy-expensive process, about 2 oz per day.  Since this bird came in so young, he'll be staying with the RMRP for about 60 days.  One mouse (about 1 oz) costs $0.75.  Let's figure he'll eat 75 mice while he's here.  That's $56 just for that one bird, just for food.  Factor in the time taken to care for him (tiny babies require a lot of attention), the cost of live prey when he attends Mouse School...he's racking up quite a bill for a non-profit organization. 
7/2/12
But here's the kicker: the RMRP currently is taking care of 23 American Kestrels, most of whom are young and voracious.  Let's figure 50 mice per bird for all those other younguns, and that equals $826 (just food!) for only those birds (we see way more than 23 Kestrels each year, those are just the ones currently at the RMRP).  Some of those Kestrels are young and broken, so they require additional healing time (and more food) as well as medical care (antibiotics, pain killers, homeopathics, bandaging materials, etc).  In the end, it's quite a lot of money to take care of these kids. 

7/4/12 - 77 grams!
Don't get me wrong: the Humans love taking care of these birds, and they'll turn backflips to make sure ends meet all year long.  It's just that some times of the year are more expensive than others, and that makes some times of the year are scarier than others.  This is one of those times. 

So here's the deal: for the next fifty days I'll keep posting pics and stories of this awesome little kid as he (or she!) grows up, and in exchange maybe you could throw a few dollars towards his lunch money, and towards the lunch money of all those other kids blown out of their nests, starved out of their nests, or knocked out of their nests by clumsy Humans or clumsy siblings.  What do you think?  Sound like a deal?  If so, the link is here.  Thanks in advance! 

Stay tuned for more pics! 

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